Until the last few years of my life I never liked going to church. I felt I should go, but I didn’t want to. I believed in God, but wasn’t ready to give him all of me. Something was always holding me back (most of these reasons below). I want to share them with you because something new happened inside of me. Something connected and now I love going to church and see it very differently than I used to.
See if you relate to one or more of these:
I’m not sure there is a God.
I am not proud of it, but I am skeptical. I annoy myself with my doubt and skepticism. My pastor has said in front of a group that no one asks more questions than I do, haha! But every time I feel it coming on I give it to God. I pray for wisdom and guidance. He welcomes it. He welcomes my questions and answers them uniquely every time. You need to ask him to reveal himself to you. He will. Pay attention after your request, an answer is coming.
When I am in a place of doubt, I first ask “Is God is real?” Next, “If he is real, is he good?” I am far enough along in my faith that it takes me a few seconds to review his faithfulness to me personally. (Like this time and this time and this time.) Sometimes I even go back to basics: Is there evidence Jesus walked the face of the earth? Yes. Then I must decide if he was 1) a liar, 2) a lunatic or 3) the son of God. He left no room for another choice. I believe he was the son of God.
Then, if he is the son of God I need to hear his words, know his voice and live accordingly. If Jesus is real, then there is no other choice but to live my life for him.
If you are a skeptic like me, I wrote this for you: Is there proof God exists? Let’s talk archeology, science and historical accuracy. It’s the most important decision of your life.
People judge you at church.
There are churches who don’t accept everyone, and that should bring us all great sorrow. But I believe they are the exception. No matter who you are, what you look like, where you are from or what you’ve done, you are loved, accepted and welcomed into the body of Christ without exception.
Spiritually mature Christians will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and would make it their goal to make you feel loved and well-received. Introduce yourself, tell someone you’re new. In a biblically-sound church, you’re going to get a big smile, an excited handshake and opening conversation.
We are called to love each other through our sin. I can tell you that if I saw someone step into church, who I knew personally was deeply involved in a sinful lifestyle, I would be delighted. I would not heap judgement or have thoughts of “what is she doing here?” Instead I want to hug her and sit beside her to hear the message of God’s truth together. Because that is what my own sinful heart needs as well — the gospel.
Someone deeply connected with the Spirit knows she is there to listen to the sermon for her own life, not to elbow the person beside her. That’s God’s job, not ours.
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:3-4)
I’ve been burned.
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” ― Brennan Manning
We’ve all been burned. We’ve all known a Christian who does not live up to who we are called to be. Hi, I’m Kate. I’m one of them.
Humans will let you down. Humans will fail you — even if they don’t mean to, even if they had good intentions. But that’s why we go to church to worship God, not humans. Because he will never fail us, never let us down, never fall short on a promise.
What could be more heart-breaking to God than people doing evil in his good name? There are corrupt churches, corrupt pastors, corrupt members. DO NOT let these things deceive you into thinking God is on their side. He is not. And one day they will be dealt with accordingly.
Let go of lies you were told. Let go of things done in anger that were said falsely in God’s holy name. Know your Bible. If it doesn’t line up with God’s own word, it’s not true and it will not stand.
One lying person, two lying people, 1 million lying people do not mean that God does not exist or is bad. It means there is one, two or a million lying people. God is good. God is for you, not against you.
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I don’t have my act together yet.
Maybe you think you need to get your act together before you go to church, but that’s just not how it works. Church is for sick people. Church is for people who are aware of their mistakes and burdens and want a better life.
Christ has afforded me a vulnerability I wasn’t able to have before. He takes the focus off me. I don’t need to be perfect because he already was. I don’t need you to think that I’m a god, because I’m not. I can admit to you that I do wrong that needs forgiveness every day.
I’ve heard this saying, that some people say church is a crutch, but it’s a whole lot more than that — it’s a whole hospital. If only perfect people went to church, no one would attend. If you’re in a deep dark pit, church is the place for you.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-30)
Well, yeah, there’s that. Sometimes church can be boring, but most of the time that depends on what church you go to. You need to find one that fits you — but of course it needs to be biblically sound. (I love when churches just go through books of the Bible. It doesn’t get much more Bible-focused than that. One thing to beware of is lots of talking and little scripture.)
Some prefer quiet and classic hymns. Others prefer hands up and jammin’ out. But however you prefer your worship, the Bible is anything but boring. It has war and blood, love and romance, murder and vengeance. It has a cast of misfit heroes you will see yourself in.
Go with an open mind, an uncritical mind. Listen and see what can be applied to you life. Take your Sunday to your Monday, as they say. How can you apply to your own life what you’ve heard? This is when something that once seemed boring starts to change your life for good. And that is oh so very exciting.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
I’m not done with my sin yet.
It is common to have an encounter with God and let it fall flat. Why? Because when we are next to his good and holy white light we see our habitual evil deeds — and we realize that we are not ready to give them up. We like our sin. We like our crutch of alcohol, drugs, partying, sex, pornography or whatever lies between. And what will our friends say?
But here’s what I can tell you, the things that cause us to sin will cause us to fall. Those things that seem to satisfy in the moment, will lead you to destruction. Those things will not give us happiness. Ever. They just can’t. Are you constantly looking for that thing that will finally make you happy? The only source of true joy, true satisfaction that lasts is from the Lord.
Who has ever said their addiction to pornography ended fantastically? No one, he might lose his wife and kids. Who has ever said taking the edge off with drugs ended with extra energy and a fresh breath of life so they could have more family time and help others? Or sleeping around has brought about relational satisfaction and a full heart of love? It doesn’t happen.
That is why we do most of these things at night, in the dark. We don’t want light to be shed on them. Our sitcoms and movies can do their best to tell us we can do whatever we want with no consequence, that we can delete our God-given moral compass. But if you look within, it is still there, written on your heart.
If the lack of these things sounds boring to you, it’s the opposite. It is freedom. Freedom in the way of never having to look over your shoulder, wondering if so-in-so is going to tell so-in-so that you spilled gossip. It is freedom in knowing you haven’t lied at work. Freedom in knowing your body is safe and healthy. Freedom from self-medicating. Freedom in teaching your children the morals for a joy-filled life. It is freedom in having friends who are also being transformed by the gospel to talk and share your life with.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
I don’t know anyone.
It is very easy to go to church, sit through the sermon and walk right back out that door without speaking to anyone. You can feel lonely in a room full of people. You can even feel frustrated that no one reached out to you. But in reality, you can be as plugged in and connected as you want to be.
Marcello and I started volunteering in the kids’ classes and got to know the kids and more parents. We attended Bible studies and church events. We got to know people and slowly it became a community.
I am currently in several Bible studies (not all of them are affiliated with my own church) and it’s because I want to grow spiritually, but also because I benefit immensely from being part of a group. I believe that you need support from other believers to help you in your walk, and in the same vein we are called to mentor others.
I don’t believe a marriage or friendship can ever go as deep as it’s potential until the Holy Spirit connects the two people. There is a recognizable, life-changing connection that happens with both people have the Spirit and are moving to be more like Jesus. Trust me, you want a spouse and friends like this!
Have you ever had a group of girlfriends that you knew wouldn’t talk about you when you get up to go up to go to the bathroom? Have you ever had a friend that you could tell your deepest fear in confidence and receive consistent prayer to help you battle it? Have you ever sat around with a group of women when your faith is feeling small, and left feeling uplifted and ready to take on a new attitude? You can’t get these experiences through a sermon on your phone at home. Community is important.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5–7)
I haven’t met the real Jesus.
I’ve used about every one of these reasons to not go to church for years (years!), but the reason I did start going regularly and even LOVE going is because I met the real Jesus. He began to transform my life. My faith began to blossom and explode. I needed to know more!
The more you know him, the less you feel you belong in this world. It is comforting to the soul to sing along in his praise with a body of believers.
The more you know him, the more you want to share him and his unspeakable joy with others. Church gives a place to join efforts in helping the needy. I am talking about the love-starved as well as those in physical need.
The more you know him, the more you crave his presence. The more you know him, the easier it is to recognize the lies and darkness of this world. The more you know him, the more you long for his return to stay with him forever and ever. To know him, is to know love.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:14-20)
We are called to be the body of Christ. You need your fellow believers to hold you up and stand in the gap when you cannot. The support and prayer and teaching received from church cannot be substituted by a live-stream sermon. We are stronger together!
What about you? Do you regularly attend church? Why or why not?
I can’t help but attach this moving video. I’m warning you, you’re going to love it! And it won’t leave you the same. Please watch it, ok?