Struggling with Church Attendance

Yesterday was Sunday – another Sunday that came and went without us attending any church service.  Every week my husband and I insist we will get to church come hell or high water (perhaps a poor choice of words here), yet when Sunday rolls around, there we sit at home like two immovable, unmotivated objects.

It is quite apparent that each of us, for different reasons, suffers from a lack of motivation when it comes to regular church attendance.  My husband simply enjoys his sleep after a long, busy work week, but, he will get up in time as long as I remind him.  Therein lies part of the problem – he leaves it up to me and I am probably the least motivated out of the two of us. Occasionally, I have asked him to make sure I get dressed and out of the house on a Sunday morning, but if you’ve ever tried to motivate the supremely unmotivated, especially in the morning, I’m sure you can deduce how well that worked.

I am typically up in plenty of time to make it to church; however, I just don’t wake with a sense of joy at the thought of leaving my comfy cave home and mingling with people I don’t really know.  It would be more accurate to say I wake with a sense of dread, particularly as our church still favors the old practice of greeting and shaking hands with someone you don’t know. I find this whole endeavor quite disagreeable.  We are all there together, worshiping under one roof, sitting in close proximity on uncomfortable pews, isn’t that good enough? Can’t we “fellowship” without having to actually forcibly socialize or shake hands with strangers?  I sometimes challenge myself to see exactly how many people I can avoid during the appointed greeting time.  I know that is not a Christian attitude which is usually why my husband stands a few feet away from me just in case the lightning bolt strikes.

Despite my curmudgeonly attitude towards the social aspect of church attendance, I feel much better when I do attend and I feel guilty when I don’t.  I know God does not necessarily inspire guilt – perhaps it is more a sense of conviction?  Whatever the feeling is, I don’t enjoy it.  Yet, it hasn’t been enough to pry me from my home over the past month.  So what do I do? Why is this such a chore for me?

In a previous life, I was a full-fledged member of a large “charismatic” church and rarely missed a service.  I was involved in many activities and even attended Bible studies.  Then life happened, things fell apart, and I had a bit of a spiritual crisis.  This led to much reflection upon the teachings of this particular church which, in turn, led to an intense questioning and doubting of my faith in general.  It took me a good five years before I returned to church even on a “sometimes” basis.

Although I’m not quite where I’d like to be in this journey, I have since resolved most of my spiritual crisis and the questions raised by the teachings of the charismatic church. Today, my problem seems to be a combination of easily rectified excuses issues for which I need to take responsibility.  I definitely have become more selfish with my time; if I’m honest, it has become an idol of sorts which is not a good thing.  I have also become lazy in my relationship with the Lord in general, not just church.  I haven’t engaged in real prayer time or Bible study in over a year, again because I’m doing more important things with my time like browsing the web and watching YouTube.  Admitting this only adds to my frustration because I know that I cope much better with life when I have quiet time.  I’m essentially just shooting myself in the foot by not doing it.

There are some who may suggest that my lack of desire to attend church shows a lack of faith or connection with God’s word or will.  I know that while church doesn’t save us we do need some fellowship with other believers. If I know this and yet still choose to stay away from church, does that mean I’m not as committed to my faith as someone who attends church regularly?  Perhaps it does.  Others may argue it is because I have no one to whom I am accountable, that is also possible.  In my previous church home, I had several people who held me accountable for attending services – people who would question if I didn’t show up. I’m not sure this is the best way to get someone to church as there is a fine line between doing something out of accountability and doing something out of fear of judgement, but at least I was there.

Sometimes I wonder if going to church should just become a habit even though I think that word has a negative connotation when referencing your spiritual life. A habit is an act you engage in as routine, almost unconsciously, without much thinking.  Is this how I should approach church attendance? Maybe the act of going to church and getting there should be a habit as long as you are fully engaged once you arrive?

All of the reasons I have listed thus far are fairly easy to correct if I put my mind to it.  The only legitimate issue I might be able to cite for my lack of motivation is our church’s service structure.  Although my former church was on the verge of spreading some dodgy theology, I did become accustomed to its more upbeat and teaching styled services.  The one complaint I have about our current church is that the pastor reads to us quite a bit and, in my opinion, there’s not a lot of actual preaching going on.  I prefer to be taught; to be provided useful, Biblical concepts that I can take with me, mull over, and apply to everyday life.

Again, despite the long list of excuses, it is ultimately my responsibility to get myself to church.  If I don’t feel fed at our current church, then that needs to be addressed with my family.  If I feel I can still learn something there, then I need to work on actually getting there on a regular basis.   I don’t feel the need to join a church officially (been there, done that),  but I understand that fellowship is important.  It’s very easy to get caught up “in the world” without that weekly contact with like-minded individuals.

What is shameful about all of this is that while I apparently have no motivation for God on a Sunday morning, I can certainly muster up the motivation for a trip to the mall.  Jesus suffered such pain and anguish during his time on earth so that we may know Him – it is kind of pathetic that I can’t dedicate one hour each week to the church for which he sacrificed so greatly during his lifetime.

Questions

Do you attend church regularly? Do you have any secrets or suggestions for making it to church every week?

Do you ever struggle with your motivation to attend church? If so, how do you overcome that?

3 responses

  1. Your post is a post that hits home for a lot of people in this world. In fact I just had a conversation with a young lady today about this and she had the similar excuses (reasons) to not attend as well. So I asked her, do you feel like staying home is improving your life and people around you or do you think attending church and seeking God improves your life and the lives around you?
    I have a passion every day to improve my life through Jesus and that improvement is impacting people around me in a positive way. When someone looks at me, or talks to me, or associates with me in any way I want them to know, feel, and see Jesus in me. A good friend of mine once told me, you might be the only person that another person you are introduced to that will ever see or hear about Jesus. So another words, you might be that one link between that person and Jesus’ love, mercy and grace. Your simple act of showing Christ’s love could be the time they see Jesus and find salvation in Jesus because of your faith in Him. I will pray for you and your husband to seek Jesus and fill yourself with His love and grace for you and your family. My God bless you on this journey of uncertainty and you will find the answers that your heart desires. May you be touched in a special way!!

    Like

  2. Attending church was always a goal of mine when I became a Christian. Then I started going and felt sort of empty. I always wanted to connect with other like-minded people. Therein lies the problem. I soon discovered that the people attending the church were not as like-minded as I thought they’d be. I had my feeling and opinions on things and the church didn’t see eye to eye with me. I wanted real conversations about God and the church seemed content to divide into cliques and exclusive clubs that new church attendees were not welcome to join (or at least they did not feel comfortable to join). I went to one church for about a year or so and another one for maybe 2. When I left the first church, the people there didn’t even notice when I stopped attending. When I left the other church, not one person reached out to me to find out why or to try to work things out. Of course, I had been writing to the pastor about changes I thought could be good for the church to come alive again. If you read any of my blog posts, you’ll soon realize I’m not big on routines or traditions of men. He was not very receptive and was quick to point out how many years of theological training he had. I look at churches as buildings full of people who want to do the right thing but are usually just content sitting and listening to someone else talks for 2 hours. The people I’ve come in contact with within the church don’t want to do anything new. Old and boring is the way to go. I don’t like the feeling of being bored or not agreeing with the sermon while I’m supposed to worshiping our Lord. I hate having negative thoughts about people I’m supposed to be fellowshipping with. true Christian fellowship happens when people who love and follow Jesus come together. It requires back and forth conversation and in-depth discussion. I think the traditional church environment, at least from my experience, doesn’t give you that. It’s all about routines and rituals. It’s not personal or friendly and certainly does not encourage people to want to get to know each other. I know I found it hard to go to church after awhile because I wasn’t getting anything out of it. I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t connecting. I wasn’t truly worshiping. Being in a building in the vicinity of other Christians isn’t enough. That’s not the fellowship the Bible talks about. I found that in my life, meeting with friends for an at-home Bible study is far more rewarding and makes me feel closer to God and closer to understanding His plan for me. I truly believe in “THE” church, but not “a” church as we know it today. If you find a church that teaches truth as laid out in the Bible and gives you the feeling of family and true fellowship, then great. If you find true fellowship elsewhere, as I did, do not feel guilty or feel like you are letting God down. I feel He led me to where I am now and I do not care that the local church thinks I am wrong. I hope you find what works out for you, not to make you feel comfortable, as it is not really about us. But I hope you find what gives you the closeness to God and the true fellowship with other believers that we all need in this life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your church experiences. I too desire real conversations with God and a real chance to study his word with others. Sometimes it gets a little tiresome just being “preached at.”

      I’m glad you have found a solution that works for you. I hope I find one soon!

      Like

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