Okay, ladies, I skipped church today. I know. It’s shocking. Sunday’s can be a time to relax and fellowship with your community and friends. Other times, they can be stressful. You wake up Sunday morning and realize you didn’t do those assignments due this week, your child is up coughing and feverish, the weather is sketchy, or your house is in a state of disrepair. Life happens! When it does, it’s okay to say, “You know what? I think I’m going to stay home today.”
Are you telling me it’s okay to not be in the first row every Sunday? YES! Recently I’ve learned that the modern church can get things wrong. I’ve grown up in the Bible Belt. It’s what I know. You don your best shoes and pack on makeup like a proper southern lady and attend church. It’s when you don’t show up to a Sunday morning worship service the drama ensues.
I am a college student. I pay thousands of dollars in tuition so I can receive an education. That is a full-time occupation. I also work to help fund my school. I’m being responsible and trying to limit debt accumulation ( which is biblical: see Proverbs 22:7). Sadly, the modern Christian has lost sight of what the church was created for and suddenly, I feel the need to defend myself for not attending Sunday service. If I am not at church, the questions and assumptions I receive are incredible. “Beth, are you doing okay in your walk with God,” “Are you an atheist now?” or I receive the title of “flaky” and called undedicated to my faith. If you’ve ever gone through a busy time where you didn’t make it to every church service, you’ve probably heard something similar. But readers, its OKAY.
Before I go any further, Let me just say, I love my home church as well as the church I’m currently attending. I think It’s important for Christians to have a community of like-minded individuals around to encourage them and I am not at all “anti-church.” Now, let’s look at why we have church in the first place. When Jesus walked the earth, he was intentional about building relationships with his followers. Jesus and his disciples read the scriptures and discussed them together as Rabbi and students. Jesus intended to teach us the way to God.
1 Corinthians 14:26 “After Jesus, Paul and apostles began the early Roman church. What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
The early church was highly persecuted and ridiculed. The church was created for believers to come together to study the scriptures and worship together. It wasn’t an all-inclusive cult or a society which demanded its members to attend every meeting and walk life in the way they mandated.
The church was meant for COMMUNITY.
It was meant for followers of Christ to come together to encourage one another and learn more about their faith. The modern church seems to have lost sight of this. I have walked into many churches where I didn’t feel at home, and it appeared the church was more an industry than it was a ministry. This is heartbreaking to me. After moving away from home, I began to search for a church community. I was easily frustrated. I never knew how difficult it was to find a church home. I visited several churches where it was impossible to get involved because I didn’t have the time to serve in ten different ministry areas and therefore was not welcomed into community groups or gatherings outside the church. It hurt more than I expected. I felt isolated and alienated. Many modern churches have become clique like and highly judgmental. This is such a HUGE MISREPRESENTATION of why we have church. Everyone goes through various stages of life. At some points, being a member of a church really may not be possible or practical. This isn’t a reflection on your personal relationship with God, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to hell because attending and regularly serving in a church isn’t possible with your current schedule
Jesus loved people.
He served people while understanding the need to take time to be fed ( see the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:32-48). I have met so many people who have been burned by the local church and had their hearts hardened towards church communities because of the judgmental and rude way they’ve been treated. This is not what Jesus was about and is never what a church should be.
Readers, it’s okay to not be at church every Sunday! God isn’t going to smite you. Don’t be discouraged or feel pressured. If you have a great community around you and a solid relationship with God, you’re doing better than a lot of people! Going to church doesn’t make you a “good” Christian just like going to school every day doesn’t make you a “good” student. It’s the effort you put into your relationship with God. So be in peace and quit stressing about what God intended to be an encouragement and home community for you!
By Bethany Anna