Do I HAVE to go to church? I struggle with that question for many different reasons. Here’s what I discovered.
“Why do we have to go to church?” my student whined.
“Yeah,” another joined in, “it’s boring!”
“Is there anything about church that you enjoy?” I countered. I struggled to answer their questions. Why? Because I struggle with church attendance, too.
“I really like song service sometimes,” one of the girls said.
“Me, too!” another chimed in. “Especially when I get to help lead out.”
“Children’s story is pretty cool,” one of the boys, a senior in high school, said.
“And sometimes pastor does magic tricks to help make his point.”
“We have to go to church because we go to a school that’s sponsored by a church,” a junior girl explained. “Remember, they told our parents that when we registered.”
Heads nodded in agreement, and I decided I should start history class.
But inside, the question remained. I struggle with church attendance. Maybe because I don’t find community there. Or perhaps because my introverted personality feels overloaded by the weekend and I just want to retreat.
I understand my students’ complaints. Sometimes, church is downright boring. Many times, I can’t understand the pastor’s accented English. Occasionally, the song service touches me deeply, and I end up sniffling and tearing up instead of singing. The children’s story and magic tricks DO make the service more interesting. And yes, the students all go to church, whether they’re Christians or not, because our school is run by a church and church attendance is part of the deal.
Confessions of a Church Lady
And, I confess, I suffer from noticing the out-of-place, incorrect, and illogical. Every type-o on the songs projected, every mispronunciation from the pulpit, and every Bible verse read in the King James Version jumps out and smacks me in the face. I end up obsession over what’s wrong instead of focusing on God. And then I feel guilty about my negativity. Which makes going to church a generally unpleasant experience.
Holley Gerth’s new book The Powerful Purpose of Introverts helped me understand myself a bit better. In the book she talks about negativity bias and the introvert. Gerth says,
“Introverts’ tendency toward negativity may come from the acetylcholine pathway they use for processing.”Holley Gerth
She also explains that we don’t have to let these negative ruts rule our mental pathways. I can form new neural pathways for my curmudgeonly church behavior. Instead of focusing on the negative, I can redirect my mind a focus on the positive.
Why Do I Need to Go to Church?
God DOES want us to meet together. Jesus went to church when he came to Earth. In fact, his church behavior shocked most people. Hebrews 10:25 tells us we should meet together to encourage each other. Colossians 3:16 tells us we need to meet to admonish each other with wisdom, and we should sing together and show God gratitude. Ephesians 5:19 encourages us to sing and make music from our hearts to God.
Church shouldn’t be so focused on ritual and form that it loses its meaning. I think Jesus’ bad behavior stemmed from the point he wanted to make about the purpose of meeting together. The reason why we need to go to church lies in the relationship God wants us to have with him and the rest of his family.
Church community should be practice for heaven. If we can’t get along down here with the one purpose of loving God and the people he loves, how do we think we can get along in heaven?Church community should be practice for heaven. #fmfparty #church #christian Click To Tweet
Next week, I’ll set a goal of reaching out to one person to form community. I’ll re-form those negative neural pathways each time a type-o or mispronunciation grabs my attention. Because I do need church. It will never replace my personal relationship with God, but I can learn from my family members. I may never downright enjoy church, but I can reach out to lonely people and offer friendship.
Does anyone else struggle with church? If so, what have you done?