Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Church

Do you like church?

I do. I really like church. I like walking into a building designed specifically for teaching me about and worshipping God. I like worship music. I sing loud and raise my hands and bounce on my toes if the beat is just right. I like seeing people I know and I like reading my Bible. I like praying and being prayed for and I like getting my children to a place each week where they are being taught about God and what He has done. I really really like church.

For all of its mistakes, for all of the hypocrites, for all of its shortcomings - I genuinly love church.

And yet ...

We haven't been to church for awhile. A long while. It's just a struggle to make it there. With Mike working every other Sunday, and us having only one car, it seemed that slowly and steadily we began attending church less and less. For a long while I made the effort to take Mike to work, bring the kids home to get dressed, and then get to church. It was a difficult process; there was only an hour turn around time before Mike had to be at work and church began. It was a constant rush and more times than not by the time we got to church I was frazzled, angry, and sweaty. I would spend the first 45 minutes of service calming down and the next 45 feeling guilty about how I treated my kids that morning. Then service was over and even though I'd been there I hadn't actually been present. When the fall came around and my kids started sleeping longer I gave up on driving Mike to work. It had been stressful when the kids were up early, but once they began sleeping longer it was enough to make me cry and I gave up. That left only two Sundays each month that we could attend church and some days someone was sick, or we overslept or we just needed a day to stay home. Before we knew it, we hadn't been in almost two months.

When we haven't been to chruch in awhile, it feels good to walk in and have someone say, "Hey! We haven't seen you in awhile!". When that happens I feel like I have been missed, that people care about me. In fact, in the couple of months we missed church, I received a few emails and some phone calls from people just to see if we were ok. It was difficult to say that we were mostly being lazy and that everything really is fine ...
Saturday night we were visiting with some good friends who had taken a break from church for awhile. After a few months they decided to start attending again and we were talking to them about how we hadn't been for awhile, either. We also talked about the big hullabaloo that was caused last week while the Seahawks played their final playoff game. One large church in our area canceled Sunday morning services and had a football party instead and we discussed the 'controversy' (which was highly overrated in my opinion) over it. Then I said something that made me sound like a really shallow Christian.

"I've missed church for much less than football. In fact, my kids are filthy and the boys need haircuts. I highly doubt we'll be at church again this week."

I hate even typing that out to admit to the world.

Sunday morning Mike woke up early and made coffee ... and then told the kids to get dressed because we were going to church. And for the first time in almost two months we went. And when I took Judah to Sunday School and his teacher said, "Judah! Where have you been? We've missed you!" it felt like coming home after a long absence. And when Judah replied, "We've been sleeping!!" I felt like a total loser...{sigh}.

Mike told me later that he felt that it was his job to make sure our family gets to church and he apologized for not getting us there. I didn't need him to apologize, after all, I've enjoyed the benefits of sleeping in. But it did feel good to have him acknowledge what his role in our home is. And, for the record, I don't think going to church makes one a good Christian. But, for me, not going to church makes me a lazy Christian, and honestly, that's not something I want to be known for.

So, my question for you is ...

Do you go to church? If not, why? What is your biggest obstacle in getting to church?

A little more for the record...I've had bad experiences in church too. Really. Really. Bad. And I've known hypocrites and I've been a hypocrite and my pastor has really upset me and my friends have been hurt and things are said that I don't agree with and CHURCH IS NOT PERFECT. Sometimes it's downright terrible. So, I don't want you to think that I live in this la-la land place where I think church is the perfect representation of Christ. Yikes. But, like I said earlier, there is something beautiful about people who genuinly want to follow Christ meeting together and trying to make it work, and making the effort to look past the 'humanity' of it all has made church a much more enjoyable experience for me.

10 comments:

CM said...

We battle the same thing. We try to make it to church, but like this past Sunday, we needed to get other things done. Luckily, when we do make it, we don't feel any judgement.

I try to remember that God isn't just in a building, he's in my heart.

Melissa said...

My biggest obstacle of not going to church is honestly... myself. Laziness, wanting to sleep in (I only get the weekends to ever do that with 4 kids you know, shallowness (not having anything to "wear" etc). I mean there are other things at times, like needing a day to spend just with the family at home and not on the road to church and all the busy-ness that happens when we do go. Money also, because we have chosen to go to our home church, despite its 75 mile distance... its a $30 Round Trip excursion for us each week. And sometimes we dont have it.

I agree with you that when we DO go I feel so much better... the fellowship and worshipping together with other believers. Its a good thing.

When we lived in CO, I went to church maybe 10 times in 18 months. The church we chose had great "everything" but for me, was not friendly. I stopped going because it was so much work to get there and then leave again with no one talking to us. Ever. So I stayed home.

It was good to see you on Sunday. Glad we made it up this week!

Deputy's Wife said...

I have to admit, I'm in the same boat you are. I love my sleep and I feel guilty that on Saturday nights, I pray that God wakes me up in time to go to church. I wish I was kidding. I guess I rationalize it that if He wakes me up in time, I'm supposed to go. If I don't wake up, I wasn't. I really need to go to church apparently. :)

Momma K9 said...

We were "those people" who skipped church to watch the game. *sigh. I don't know if this was right or wrong. I don't think church should be something so legalistic that we "have" to be there, but I do also believe the fellowship and feeding is important.
With that being said, since having a baby our attendance has been spotty. Especially when Officer K9 is working. Excuses! I do cherish my sleep, what little I get, and to be out the door early is a struggle. I will say though, the times I've made it, I never regretted and I always got a sweet nap later in the day. :) the times I missed, well I do try to listen to the Podcast, but it's not the same. I miss the fellowship, I miss listening to someone else teach me. I don't teach myself so well. I agree, it's not a perfect church with a perfect pastor. None are. Any that claim they are, well, they got more problems than if their sheep attend each week! That's part of what I lobe about our church, it's not perfect. It's just a lovely building for a bunch of sinners to meet up in and get fed each week. And yes, you are missed when you are not there.
It's a struggle between the "obligation" to be in church and the "heart" to be there. I pray to always have the heart to be there. When I feel like it's something I have to do, is when I know I need to. If that makes any sense! Now, I shall try to apply what I just wrote in my life. Again. It's a work in progress.

kimberly said...

Church...I think the thing we forget about assembling together as believers is that God tells us to do it! It wasn't just a suggestion! He knows that when we don't meet up with other believers and hear teaching and encouragement - we get alone, by ourselves and soon we find ourselves doing things we never thought we would, thinking less about God and more about ourselves and completely out of sync with who we need to be in Christ. We NEED to be in fellowship with other believers. We are SO weak when we are trying to live the Christian life without others to encourage us on.

It's great to be able to honestly own up to the reasons behind what we are doing or not doing. And then do the right thing. But - you are also right when you say ...being a good Christian doesnt mean "going to church..." :) We've all gone to church at times with the wrong attitude and heart, but it's also right to do what we don't want to do sometimes! ;)

Good post ... tough stuff...but real life is tough!

Have fun in Hawaii Gen! Good to see you last night! :)

Sister Copinherhair said...

Here are my thoughts...

I don't feel guilty for not going regularly. To me, church is simply a formality. I know a ton of people who go all the time and are just terrible human beings. In my opinion, it is how you live your life every day. Doing unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Living life to the fullest. Being the best person you can be. Having your own personal relationship with God and your faith. That, I think, is much more important than stressing over whether you are able to walk into a building once a week.

Second, I would go crazy with a service that long! An hour and a half???

Last Saturday, during our playoff game with the Ravens, my parents' church had very little attendance. Mass was shortened to 45 minutes because the priest wanted to get back to the rectory to watch the game. The congregation also prayed for the Steelers and that was right about the time that they came back in the second half to win the game!

God might be a Steelers fan.

Just sayin'. ;)

Sarah said...

I have the opposite problem. I hate church, loathe it, have issues that are written all over me when I walk inside that I somehow cannot figure out how to get over.

And yet, I'm there. Sitting in the back row with a "go ahead and make my day" look on my face. The whole service consists of me trying to get over myself.
So I think not attending and having a good attitude might be better than a bad attidue in attendance. lol.

Rebecca said...

I love going to church. We've missed our days as well. kids get sick. The Mr. get's home to late in the AM from his job. Things happen. We've tried to stay connected as much as possible and try to have "church" at home so there is more influence in our lives. The Mr. loves watching football but as of late he's more interested in going to bed after a long hard battle with law breakers.

John Rambo's Wife said...

Great post. We've often struggled with going to church on a regular basis because of John Rambo's schedule as well. It was pretty rare that he had a Sunday off. If he was working nights, the morning was the only time I'd often see him in the day. It took awhile for me to realise that I had to just go on my own. That this was something that was important to us as a family and I needed to be okay with doing it by myself to retain that church community connection even for us as a couple and now for the sake of our kids. When we moved we actually specifically looked for a church that not only fit our family but also had childcare so that it would be easier for me to go on my own. I love Jesus,and I love corporate fellowship however I'm totally dreading going on my own this Sunday. I know I'll be just like you...running after JJ, trying to nurse Tiny Bear, having everyone ask why JR isn't with me and just being exhausted by the end of it. I do think though that God honours our effort. We serve a gracious Lord. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap and sometimes He asks us to rely on Him and put that extra effort in. :) Be encouraged, you aren't the only one who struggles with making this work and know that He will meet you where you are at. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" 1Cor 2:9. (It doesn't say for those who have a perfect church attendance record ;) ) Thanks for a great post.

Chellie Dee said...

Gen... wow! I wish that I had read this post before today! I too suffer spotty church attendence. Sure Nick works every Sunday but what stop me from not going? My family and church family are there.... All of these people that I love! I have a lot of excuses... I'm tired. I need to shop. Nick wont be there with me and people will ask again where he is...again... Is that really a hard question to answer? Probably not!
I wont lie, seeing that others have the same problem as me makes me feel better but it also encourages me that I need to get over my selfish desires about not going and be selfish about going. does that make sense?
I know that church doesn't say what my relationship with God is but I believe that he gave us church fro us to graow in so many ways!