“No, You Don’t Have to go to Church”

Climbing into the car on a Sunday morning, I bent down to buckle Zeke’s seat belt and was asked a startling question from his brother:

“Dad- do we HAVE to go to church?”

Being honest, I had to immediately choke down a “Yes! Because I said so!” (Sunday mornings are rough for everyone, right?)

“Well, Harper, I think you’re looking at it wrong. You don’t have to go to church- you get to go to church.”

Change of Thought

Too many of us view church attendance as a chore that interferes with the flow of our weekend. Like Harper who doesn’t want to leave his toys or tv shows, we see a Sunday morning service as a interruption, not the central point of our weekend.

The problem is that church is the central point of our lives and the rest of the weekend structures around it. Here’s how I see it- life is a meal where God is the main course. Anyone has access to eat this meal as God will beckon them in. Church is the plates and silverware- yes, you can technically eat the meal without your plate, but you’ll struggle, make a mess, and wonder why everyone seems to be doing better with their meal.

Paul says in Romans 12 that we should “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” This action requires both the Spirit to intervene and transform and for you to change the way you think, refusing to be conformed to the ideas of the world.

Change of Heart

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

This passage from Hebrews is one of my favorite in the New Testament because it highlights so well how church is such a wonderful privilege that we’re honored to be able to take part. Once you’ve changed your way of thinking to see your week center around church, you’ll start to see bigger changes in your interactions with other people, as we “stir up one another to love and good works”.

Commercial break– If you’re attending a church because you’ve done it for years and its comfortable but no one is pushing each other toward love and good works, you’ve got two choices: leave and find a church that does or be the catalyst that creates that drive. –Back to your regularly scheduled blog

There’s no way I’ll see the struggles and pain of my fellow Christians if I selfishly choose to sleep in Sunday morning. And when that happens I’m not able to love them like they need and to be pushed to love like I need to be. But what if the tables are turned? If I’m hurting and struggling, I need church more, to have my heart encouraged by those who love me and Christ.

You Get to Go to Church

Church attendance is a wonderful thing that God, in His wisdom, allows us to do. Think of it this way- you have a tendency to fail, to struggle, to hurt, and to be broken. Guess what? So does everyone else around you. So God created a group of people who also fail, struggle, hurt, and break, so that we can bring our imperfect selves together to the feet of a perfect God. Some days, I’ll struggle to drag myself to His feet- on those days, I’m glad my church family at The Valley is there to help me get to Him.

-Ryan Black-