I stopped attending regular worship service over a year ago. We are a one car family – and my older sons needed to be places on Sunday morning. That meant that we had to drive them there if we wanted to have access to the car.
It was as good a reason as any.
My husband and I kept up appearances for a while – attending what we refer to as 1st Sunday school and 2nd Sunday school (back to back classes after the regular church services). I stopped going to those as well. Sick children and then sick me kept me home several weeks in a row. By then I was out of the habit.
It was as good a reason as any.
The truth is – I don’t miss it. There are a few people that added a smile to my day and encouraged me along in my journey. There have been some amazing discussions in those Sunday schools classes. There were times when it warmed my heart to see my sons taking notes during the sermon and then sharing their thoughts on the drive home.
The truth is – I get that even if I never walk in that brick building. I get the chance to share Scripture several times a week when my dad and I “meet together” for coffee on the back porch. I get the chance to share encouragement with friends when we gather together around a meal. I get the chance to hear the thoughts of my children when I turn off the television or radio and just listen or engage with them.
The truth is – the church quit me long before I stopped attending.
There was a time when I was in church – gritting my teeth – going along to get along. I spent many nights in a room alone doing a private study because the leaders had made it crystal clear that they wanted me to leave. I prayed for God to direct me down a different path. I cried when I didn’t see a way.
There was a time when I was in a church – desperate to pursue my calling – hungry for all that God had for me. I spent many days volunteering, giving what I had, and doing what I could do but always feeling like I was coming up short. I prayed for God to open my eyes and help me see. I sighed when all I saw was the cruel darkness.
There was a time when I was in a church – determined that I would be a part of the organization. I asked. I offered. I pleaded. I was left standing alone against the wall – wondering what I had done to keep me out of the inner sanctuary. I prayed for God to give me an opening. I found peace when I quit trying to fit into the church.
I was reminded a while back that THE Church is a body of believers – where you are known and where you know each other. You are free to be open and honest and raw and real – because the others in THE Church (the body of believers) will love and encourage and support and even help. When asked “how are you doing,” I answer with details because I know the asker actually wants to know the answer.
Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to never give up gathering together – or meeting together. It says nothing about “going to church.” The Word wants us together – wherever that might occur – because we are stronger when we are in it together.
Things are changing. THE Church is stirring. Maybe that means that the buildings will house something new and engaging. Maybe that means that the buildings will become a starting point – instead of the only point. Maybe that means that my life is about to take a new turn.
I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I am confident and comfortable in the One that holds tomorrow – church or no church.
This post was inspired by a discussion started by Sheila Wray Gregoire - and a backporch chat I had with my dad over coffee yesterday. Where do you find THE Church?