Is Going to Church a Spiritual Discipline?
Two weeks ago I wrote that a spiritual discipline is something we do to draw closer to God or to honor him. To be of value we need to do this willingly with joy and in anticipation. I gave 17 possible disciplines to consider. Going to church wasn’t on the list.
Should going to church be included as a spiritual discipline? Reflect on three spiritual disciplines that touch on the practice of church attendance:
1) Community: This is simply spending time with other people who follow Jesus in order to form meaningful spiritual connections. This can happen at church on Sundays; at least it should. Yet at too many churches community doesn’t happen at all, and for other churches the community is superficial. Plus true community can happen at times other than Sunday morning. And that community is often richer.
2) Sabbath: We treat one day a week differently than the other six. I’ve been looking at the Old Testament Law about the Sabbath. I keep reading that it’s a day of rest; I also see that we are to keep it holy, but so far I’ve not read that we are supposed to go to church on the Sabbath. Besides sometimes we pack our Sabbaths so full with well-meaning spiritual activity that we end the day exhausted, not rested. I doubt this pleases God.
3) Worship: A third spiritual discipline that could relate to Sunday morning church attendance is worship. Yes, we can worship God at church on Sunday mornings; we should worship him there. But we can also worship him on other days, at other times, and in other places.Is church attendance a spiritual discipline? Click To Tweet
I go to church on Sundays in expectation of community, and sometimes I worship God while I’m there, but I don’t find it restful. I do go in hopes of drawing closer to God and to honor him, so I meet the first two parts of this being a church discipline, but the willingness factor is often missing, while the attitudes of joy and anticipation are things I must strive to conjure up. I pray for all three of these mindsets each Sunday morning.
I suppose that going to church on Sunday mornings emerges as a spiritual discipline for some people. That might explain why I attend, but as spiritual disciplines go, I do a poor job at it.
Why do you go to church? Is church attendance a spiritual discipline for you? Do you go willingly with joy and anticipation?
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.