It is the very rare child, or adult for that matter, that likes to go to church.
I never liked church as a young girl, and my father was usually the preacher. I would much rather have spent Sunday morning shooting baskets, reading, or anything else please,than sitting wiggly and starched in church, hearing old scripture that didn’t amuse or interest me.
I was not much improved in high-school, and became a social-Saturday-late-nighter and consequently, sleepy-Sunday-morning teenager with an attitude. Things worsened when I realized most preachers were not nearly as gifted as my dad when explaining the gospel from the pulpit.
“But, it’s all so BORING!” I would huff and slam every week.
As a professional working woman, I still did not look forward to getting up early on my only day off in order to give up half my day in church. I quietly resented the intrusion on my life now that I had control of my own schedule. I worked stressful, long hours during the week and anyone would understand that “I just need some down time to relax and recharge. I’ll read and pray here on the deck in the sunshine.”
Why do we go to church? More importantly for many of us, why don’t we go to church?
There are lots of reasons, but here are three I’ve been thinking of this week.
#1. Church gathers struggling saints together to worship something other than themselves. This weekly coming together of strugglers, of sinners, reminds me that I am not perfect. I am broken and in need of help as much as those around me. Now, who really wants that weekly reminder? Have you seen the people around me? I’d rather stay in bed.
(Here’s my new favorite song by Christa Wells (Image of God), that reminds me of just that…buy the whole album…you will not be sorry.)
#2. A good church will insist that I stop worshipping myself and remember who I really am. God is the beginning and the middle and the end of this road, folks. How do I forget that in only seven days? Impossibly, I manage to do so. Repeatedly.
#3. Church provides words of worship and confession when I have none. There are days that I have no words to offer. I am numb, proud, or wildly distracted by myself. Church gives me words from God’s living Word to repent, to offer thanks, to see God’s grace now and through the ages.
I had a conversation with a lovely woman this week at the gym.We were shouting pleasantly across our treadmills about the rising cost of gas, and then it turned to faith.
“I hate dragging my kids to church. They don’t get anything out of it. What’s the point when I have to force them? I don’t want my kids growing up hating church, ya’ know? I want them to decide for themselves when, and if they want to go.”
Bunk. Bologna. Weak-sauce. I want to shake some brave into her, but I’m running too fast. While I can certainly empathize with her lame excuses – having been there and thought that – imagine saying the following:
“I hate making my kids eat vegetables. It’s always such a fight and wears me out. I don’t want my kids growing up to hate good food when they’re older. I want to let them decide for themselves when and what they should eat.”
Good saints, we are talking about soul food, now. It is every bit as important as your daily physical nutrition. Without it, you look like a green pea that has rolled under the fridge for a few weeks; shriveled and hard.
When I skip church a week or a year, I insert myself as the author and perfecter of my own life. How long does it take to develop a bad habit? Fourteen days, they say? Just enough time to turn into a wrinkly pea.
There is living water, and the bread of heaven, given freely for you and your family to feast on every week. It is both good for us and it tastes good. Eat your church! If you don’t have one, and need suggestions in your city, give me a shout.
Peace to you and your small saints this week as you prepare for Sunday.