The usual alarm wakes me up. It’s the same time I usually wake up for work, except this time, I’m not going to work. It’s Sunday…time for church.
I want to hit the “Snooze” button, but it’s church. I can’t skip out on my obligation to show God He matters to me. Truthfully, what really motivates me to get out of bed is the promise that I’ll be able to take a nap after the service.
My husband and I leave the house a few minutes late. We have a squabble about the importance of hearing the first song, how it sets the mood for the rest of the service, and if we show up late we’ll not only miss the song but will receive judgmental stares from the congregants who do not want to be interrupted during the first song. With this new anxiety in mind, we speed our way to church, yelling at cars that are safely driving but are in our way. We make it into the parking lot on time, but we still have to park the car, get out of the car, walk into the church building, say hello to the greeters, get a bulletin, and find a seat. By the time we get to our seats, the first song is half-way over. We are officially late to church.
After the usual announcements and the rest of the songs, we sit down, ready to critique the message, hoping it was worth the stress it took to get to church this morning. The pastor stands up and begins his message talking about Christians all over the world who are being persecuted for their faith. He looks right at me, as if he knows what I’m thinking, and says, “Praise God for the freedom we have to come to church every morning.”
In the hustle and bustle of the day, in the craziness of my week, I missed the point of going to church.
Needless to say, I made sure I paid extra attention to the message that day! It was the 4th of July service at our church, and after the crazy week I’d had (conveniently while working at a church during VBS week!) the only thing I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. I’d confessed my desire to my husband, and prayed that God would change my heart. I knew it was wrong to not want to go to church, but knowing that did not increase my interest in going to church.
There are a ton of reasons why people (especially but not limited to millennials) are leaving the church in droves. You can read about those on your own. Most of them blame pastors/church leadership, and while I agree that pastors should be held to a high standard, completely putting the responsibility on pastors completely takes the responsibility off of everyone else.
My job is to encourage others through writing. So instead of beating you over the head and telling you to go to church, let me encourage you with some stories that my friends have shared on social media regarding why they call their church home:
“I would have to say the messages of truth. But there is so much more. The warm godly people that I get to call my brothers and sisters. The beautiful worship music we sing to our Lord. The transparency of our church and the dedication of the staff. It is home to me. To Him be the glory in the church.”
“The thing I love most about church is the people. Knowing that people truly care about you, pray for you and want the best for you. I also love being there for others, praying for them, and serving them. There’s no other place like the Lord’s house.”
“This is tough, but I think I’d have to say my pastor. He’s always in the hallway after the service greeting and shaking hands with everyone, and just how real he is. He’s not afraid to speak Biblical truth and he doesn’t shy away from talking about areas in his life where he has failed. Like, he’s honest about his life before coming to Christ and he doesn’t put up a front of having everything figured out. And just his passion for the Lord.”
“My favorite thing about [the church I attend] is feeling at home there. It’s exactly where God wants me to be.”
“What I love about my church is that one member or office is not held in higher regard than the other. We are all servants of Christ and the glory goes to God for any achievements. This is HUGE…The sense of community is awesome. I have so many friends that I do things with outside of church that go to [the church I attend].”
Overall, they feel like home. They like hearing the truth. They like not having to compete, to just be themselves, and to feel welcome somewhere.*
Isn’t that what this every broken heart needs? A place to belong? A good dose of truth? A sense of acceptance?
I got saved at the church I attend. I had many life-changing experiences at the church I attend. I got baptized at the church I attend. I learned how to pray, I met my husband, and got married at the church I attend. It is rare that I have had so many life experiences at my church, especially since I live in a transient area. Nevertheless, I keep coming back. God is doing amazing things in His church, and I want a front-row seat to the action!
If you are sick of church, I pray that God draws you back. Whether it’s the church you last attended, or a church that you’ve never tried before, I pray that you feel welcome, accepted, and loved. But please, please, be patient as well. People who lead and serve in churches are broken, imperfect people. It may take time for you to feel at home. But if you want hope, encouragement, and guidance, check out what God is doing at the local church near you.
*There was one person who commented on the question I posed on Facebook whose answer I did not use. This person expressed the difficulty of finding a good church to attend. Although I did not quote this person’s answer in this article, I believe that this person is also looking for a place to call home, a good dose of truth, and a sense of acceptance.