Here's a shocker to begin this week's Thoughtful Thursday post - I believe that sometimes you need to stay away from church. That sometimes, because of the place you are in, it really is the best thing you can do for your spiritual health as well as your physical, emotional and mental health. I am not suggesting that long term it is beneficial, but in the short term, sometimes it's ok, and more than ok, sometimes it's necessary. Of course, there have been times when I have not been able to be there for whatever reason and I have been desperate to get back, so I am not saying this is for everyone or even for anyone all of the time, just sometimes . . . .
One thing I have become aware of, however, is that once you have stayed away for one week, staying away for the next becomes even easier. And if you stay away for two, then, well, the third is even harder to go back. And so on. At some point in that journey you get to a point where it might become useful to examine WHY it is you go to church. Not why people have told you SHOULD, not what you have read as good reasons to go, not why you went in the past, but why you personally do it or would do it if you were to return.
There are many reasons people go to church. Many reasons that we tell ourselves are our true reasons when really, if we're honest, it's not quite the whole truth.
I guess what I am trying to say is there are 2 questions that look almost the same:
1) Why do we go to church?
2) Why do we REALLY go to church?
I am not saying that any of those answers to the second question are necessarily bad or wrong. What I am saying is be honest with yourself, be willing to examine your own reasons every once in a while, even if you thought you knew what they were in the past, because they might have changed without you even noticing them.
Some reasons to go to church.
- Because God says you should honour the Sabbath and keep it holy.
-How do we know that church is the only way to do that? Personally, I don't think it is, I don't think our modern church services were what God had in mind when he gave that commandment. Do I think the sabbath should be like every other day? No way! Do I have some idea of what I think God meant by "honour the Sabbath and keep it holy"? Not really, I just doubt that what he had in mind is the same as what we have turned it into.
- To worship God in community with others
- Of course you can worship on your own, of course you don't need others to do that, but there is something about being together with people of like mind, all worshipping together that is different to worshipping alone. However if church services are the only time and way in which you worship or the only way in which you understand worship then I think you equally have a problem, because worship is so much more than a few songs on a Sunday morning.
- Because we need to hear of the experiences of contemporary believers.
- "testimony time" while it can sometimes be cheesy is one way in which we get to hear what our very real God is doing in the lives of some very real people, the ones right in front of us! I'm not talking about your "how I came to Jesus" stories, I'm talking about your "what God is doing for me this month, this week, in the here and now" stories. Some churches give this opportunity every week, some never do. Some have you pre submit your testimony, others just make it open mic. Others have open mic but not all the time. Have you ever had a testimony burning within you that you are bursting to share and then no opportunity is given? Yeah, maybe that's why I turned to blogging in the first place and thank God for facebook at times like that hey?
There are a whole host of other reasons, some might be mine, some might be yours, some, I think are good, some might need looking at again, some might be appropriate at one point in our journey and not at others. Here are just a few more for you to consider, and I offer them merely as that, a list to be thought over and considered, no judgement, just an open hand.
- Because we need regular reminders of the stuff of our faith.
- Because belonging to a community of faith is important.
- Because we are on the Sunday school rota (or coffee rota, or nursery rota, or ushers rota etc) and HAVE TO be there.
- Because we are the pastor and HAVE TO be there. (it happens, I've been told).
- Because we need help in walking this Christian walk.
- Because others need help in walking this Christian walk.
- Because we need to be reminded that God loves us.
- Because others need to be reminded that God loves them.
- Because we need an alternative to the messages of a culture that ignores or even opposes God.
- Because we need to experience artistic and creative expressions of faith, such as music, singing, dancing, visual art, prayer, spoken word, and so on.
- Because we need to reflect on the past week and see it in context of a longer journey with God.
- Because we need a concious break from "self" to focus on God.
- Because this is what Christians do, right?
- Because it feels good.
- To worship God
- To listen to a rousing sermon
- To hear the voice of God
- To grow in knowledge of God's word
- To be prayed for in person
- To pray for others in person and in community with others
- To feed your soul
- To get a break from your kids while they are in Sunday school or the nursery
- Because you miss being around people and are lonely
- To make friends
- To find people who see the world the same way you do
- To Grow as a person
- To serve others
- To set a good example
- For networking
- Because we want our children to be raised going to church
- Because we have something to give even when we think we don't.
Thank you to the other Middle Places Writers who shared some of their suggestions with me. Like I said, no judgement here, just a list to be considered, to be thought over, prayed over, considered with God. Notice I did not say "me, you and God", this is just for you and God to consider together. However if you were making this list what reasons would you add?
And if you are considering a return to church I suggest you read this post by my new friend Rachel Oliver: http://middleplaces.com/2014/09/05/shards-of-stained-glass/
You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.