I haven’t gone to church for the past two weeks. First, I was sick and stayed home to sleep. Last week, my wife and I headed off for a church that met in an office complex, but the doors were locked. I’ll save that story for later.
I wasn’t bothered about not being in church these last two weeks; I didn’t miss it one bit – and that does bother me. Church has apparently become such a trivial experience that I feel no void when I skip it. I actually feel guilty because I experience no guilt over my truancy. Of course part of the problem is that, despite knowing better, I still tend to attend church as a consumer: What will church do for me? What will I get out of it? Since I get little from most church services, I don’t value them much.
So why go to church? I can think of two key reasons.
One is to worship God. If our goal is to truly worship God, then nothing else really matters: not the music, the message, the people, or the facility. Yes, those elements can make worshiping easier or harder. I’m still working on that one. What I do know is that I find worshiping God easier in places other than most church services.
Another reason is to hang out with other followers of Jesus. In fact, the Bible tells us to persist in meeting together. This could happen at what we call church or it could be something else, such as meeting at a coffee shop or sharing a meal. Having recently moved and presently in a temporary situation, I’ve not made many connections with people to hang out with. Plus, in visiting churches, I’m unlikely to ever again see the folks I meet.
This meeting together is what I call Christian community; it’s what I miss and what I need: not superficial community but true, deep, intentional spiritual comradery. I hope to one day find that at a church, and I expect to find it outside of church.
But right now, I don’t have it, and that’s what I miss most.