By Becky Holland
I grew up going to church. Being the kid and grandkid and niece of preachers, I really didn’t have another choice but to go.
For me though, it was OK. I grew up loving going to church. I loved being a part of Sunday School, children’s activities, moving up to the youth group, participating in youth activities, Vacation Bible School and mission trips.
I loved the concerts we went too. I remember Carmen, NewSong, Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, Michael English, dcTalk and later, Jeremy Camp, Michael W. Smith and others. Youth camp for us was Centrifuge. There was GA and Acteen camp too. One summer -well for part of the summer – I worked at a GA camp (until I got as homesick as my girls and left early).
We are taught through Scripture that church attendance is of high importance. It is a place where folks can come together to worship, be encouraged and learn from God’s words.
Somewhere around the age of 18, my church attendance started slipping. By the age of 23, I was not going into church, but I started working in the nursery. At age 40, I was teaching a Sunday School class – but rarely went in to the church service. It was easier to slip out early.
For several years, I was living close to my parents, and we would go to their little country church. My dad did the preaching some. We were there to open the doors.
My Scripture reading and devotional times were kind of null and void – except for when I was in need or anxious. (I think that is any human’s story though, don’t you?)
I stopped going. I became one of those preacher kid stereotypes who the old folks would call a heathen – except I don’t drink, smoke, gamble or such. I just sleep in on Sundays. I am a sleepin’, non-church going heathen. (I am smiling) (My parents are reading this. Both are elderly, and hopefully both will understand there is a message in this rambling they will approve of. I really am not a heathen.)
Occasionally, I would catch on to a church and a familiar preacher online. They would stream their church services. Funny thing was, I got more out of that one on one watching from my iPad and my Amazon fire than I did in being in a service. I had my Bible open, I had my eyes and ears open and I was comfortable.
As for me and church attendance – I am a newcomer. I attended a church for six Sundays. I filled out the guest form several times. I even attended Sunday School – but it is not called Sunday School – I think all churches are calling the extra Bible study life groups or something like that. I never got a follow-up call or visit. I attend a smaller church, and it took them about three weeks, but I got a visit. Another pastor of a church of a different denomination asked me to come after I brought up the subject. In discussion with some church-going folks, I mentioned that I had not been in church in a while and needed to get in one. Do you know no one invited me?
If I was going to church for me, I could have pointed out all of that out and poked my lips out and said I was hurt. That i was not going to church because no one talked to me.
In the last several years, my hearing has become classified as impaired – especially in my right ear. It is due to Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and allergies. It happened when I moved back to Texas. I blamed my lack of hearing on my not attending church for a while. (Everything is loud now. A church I attending in Marshall had a praise band that when they played so loud the windows shook and the upstairs floor vibrated.)
Sure that was a cop-out. But it seemed pretty valid.
The right church door will open and I will show up. Or who knows, I may show up at your church one day.
The other day I was talking about not going to church. I spoke that to someone. I can’t remember who. Their words hit me. “Are you going for church or are you going for God? God will meet you wherever you want to meet.”
They were not trying to help me find another valid reason for not going to church. They were trying to make me see something.
And I think it is something that we all face today. Are we going to church for the activities or to say we went to church? Or are we going for God? Your first answer is going to be typical and maybe defensive. “I worship God. I hear God’s word through our pastor. I teach Sunday Schools about God. We sing about God. We read about God.” So…
Is it church attendance that is more important to you or a true, deep relationship with God?
When I am able to answer that honestly or you are able to answer that honestly, I think we will move one step closer in our relationship with Him.
Is it church you love or is it God? They are not one in the same.