Much of my life I have struggled with going to church. It’s not that I’ve been in a crisis of faith, but more a crisis of religion — or, as some would call it, religiosity.
Church attendance has not been faith confirming for me as much as faith confounding. My spiritual journey and growth happen largely in the 167 hours each week that I am not attending church, while the one hour that I am there is more of an anomaly to pursuing a holistic life with God at the center.
If I approach church attendance as a consumer — which is what largely happens in the United States today — I would look for the one with the best music and messages. However, given that even better music and messages can be found online and consumed at any time, there is little reason to hop in my car in search of them on Sunday morning.
Next, there is the idea of community. The Bible tells us to meet together. I have met many people at church and have numerous acquaintances who I enjoy seeing each week. But for the vast majority of them, our relationship is limited to one hour on Sunday, so my friendships there are mostly shallow.
As I have shared my consternation with a few trusted friends, they have offered some ideas of why I should attend church each week. Their sage suggestions boil down to focusing on others: to help, encourage, serve, and be an example. I am happy to do so — which is why I continue to attend.
I am pleased to give to others, but am also aware that I, too, need encouragement and support — it’s just that I will need to find it somewhere other than at a Sunday church service.