July 2, 2022

Church-Avoiding Singles: It’s Time to Rally

In most Christian circles church attendance appears to be the one litmus take a look at for whether or not we’re dedicated to Jesus and rising spiritually. After having to depart a church that each my husband and I served in, each time I bumped into former congregants the query was at all times the identical: “So the place ya goin’ now?” The query felt irritating and, on the identical time, awkwardly shaming. It appeared folks had been way more involved about the place we had been going to church, or if we had been going, than how we had been actually doing.

Church attendance is a poor measure of the situation of our relationship with God. Implied within the query, “The place ya goin’?” is an assumption that if you happen to’re attending a church service then all should be nicely with you and the Lord. And if you happen to’re not going to church, nicely … then clearly you’ve misplaced your means. And a bit of extra church would repair you proper up.

Whether or not you’ve develop into disillusioned about church or just battle with the need to have interaction in common attendance, how typically does a query like this provoke extra damage and disgrace than real interplay? As a single particular person, what do you would like you may say about your expertise of “going to church” to the particular person asking you? Even right here, I feel the language we use is so vital, and sometimes we’re too careless. I exploit quotations round “going to church” as a result of I imagine it’s a colloquial expression and a misnomer. We’re the church; we collect because the church for a worship service.

There are apparent the reason why “going to church” is of nice concern for a lot of Christians. Scripture urges us to “not neglect to satisfy collectively” (Hebrews 10:25). Jesus modeled within the Gospels the common rhythm of gathering on the Sabbath within the native synagogue. And Christian custom signifies a long-standing follow of Christ-followers coming collectively to follow the liturgy of worship: components like prayer, confession, educating and Holy Communion. However at instances church attendance feels extra like an obligation fairly than an act of worship.

The Case for Church Attendance

That’s definitely been true for me over my lifetime. I’ve struggled with or been motivated by an array of wants I hoped the church would meet, and plenty of instances I’ve felt sorely disillusioned. 4 years in the past, I started to wrestle but once more with my involvement in church. This time, via a quiet means of considering how God wished me to consider church, one thing delicate and vital shifted inside me. I began to think about “going to church” and taking part within the liturgy of worship as a religious follow. Fairly than attend church as a buyer seeking non secular items and providers, I started to have interaction as a practitioner orienting my coronary heart and life towards God.

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This seems like an innocuous shift in considering and method, however it’s really been fairly profound for me. Envisioning my actions of heading towards a worship gathering as a religious follow has turned some issues round in me. The impact is much like that of seeing a chiropractor for an alignment. The backbone isn’t the one benefactor; my whole physique and all its methods profit due to their connection to the backbone. Dedicating myself to attending our Sunday service has offered a brand new imaginative and prescient for why company worship is formative in my life. This imaginative and prescient has fueled my intention to take part extra frequently, and the liturgy has offered the means for the way my coronary heart, thoughts and can are formed as a worshiper of God.

Selecting to view church attendance as an act of religious follow really resulted in some fairly stark attitudinal shifts as nicely:

1. From Spectator to Participant.

The straightforward liturgy that shapes our worship has develop into a method to reaffirm and act out my religion in neighborhood with others. Liturgy actually means “the work or service of the folks.” Coming along with fellow believers to hope collectively and sing hymns and religious songs to God is an lively religious work. Once I started to see issues this manner, every aspect of the liturgy grew to become a acutely aware act of participation fairly than a litany I watched and was led via.

You is likely to be considering, “However my church doesn’t have a liturgy.” If there may be an intentional circulate that features among the frequent components of public worship—silence, singing, praying, confessing, Scripture studying and coming to the Lord’s Desk—then that could be a type of liturgy, albeit a non-traditional liturgy. Sadly, many church buildings right now create a worship gathering akin to a theater, live performance venue or sports activities enviornment. These gathered are within the viewers as spectators, not members, however even in these conditions it’s potential to posture your coronary heart and thoughts towards doing the nice work of worshiping and interesting with God collectively.

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2. From Skeptical to Expectant.

Up to now, I’d attend a worship service with a good quantity of skepticism due to how typically I would depart feeling disillusioned. Although not outwardly apparent, it’s as if my arms had been folded throughout my chest as I noticed the service with a closed coronary heart and significant eye. On this passive and doubtful state, I watched and waited for one thing to “fall from heaven” earlier than I’d open myself to obtain it.

Once I began to think about my participation in worship as a religious self-discipline, this perspective started to have interaction and strengthen my will. It woke up my intention to be current, which in flip opened my coronary heart to the formational work of the liturgy and the sermon. I don’t come to church anymore with lofty expectations of getting one thing out of the worship expertise, however I do include an expectant perception that my coronary heart shall be strengthened and formed towards better love for and devotion to God.

3. From Buyer to Cooperator.

After we complain about church it’s often as a result of we aren’t getting what we hoped from the service itself or the folks in our church. Our wants aren’t being met. We aren’t getting fed. There isn’t sufficient of this or there’s an excessive amount of of that. All of those sentiments specific the mentality of a buyer or client. We come to church to get. And after we don’t get what we would like, we depart and search for one other church to satisfy our wants. Or we cease all.

However shouldn’t church do one thing for us? Sure, in fact. But our buyer mentality just isn’t in contrast to a “sufferer” mentality. We get caught within the passive position of ready to be given to or taken care of, and we overlook or interact with our half within the course of. No remodeling work of God is ever achieved with out our involvement, cooperation and give up. Training every aspect of the liturgy — prayer, singing, listening, confessing and Communion — is cooperating with the Spirit within the formation of our souls.

4. From Impartial to One-Amongst-Many.

As a single particular person, selecting to attend a worship service that’s geared towards people who find themselves married and have households (who could also be insensitive to those that are single), may be awkward, lonely and laborious. We would like, and rightly so, to seek out neighborhood in our church buildings. We hope for them to be a refuge from the remoted lives we regularly dwell. We lengthy for church to be a spot the place we are able to discover significant friendships.

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Whereas it’s an unimaginable reward to discover a secure and satisfying Christian neighborhood, that’s not at all times or typically what we discover. Nevertheless, even in our disappointment, there’s one thing vital and beneficial about shifting from impartial to being one-among-many, standing, shoulder to shoulder, with others who’re in search of Christ. Gathering with the folks of God in worship and sharing the area and time collectively forges humility and inter-dependence in our in any other case autonomous existence.

Every of those attitudinal shifts describes how the religious follow of gathering in worship can prepare our hearts to want God extra. This acutely aware and intentional self-discipline of actively taking part within the liturgy can form and orient our hearts towards Christ — hearts which might be so susceptible to wander. These actions assist us do what in our nature we are able to’t or gained’t do: to develop in love, adoration and worship of the God who loves and adores us.

Paul’s phrases to the church in Rome seize superbly this intentional act of worship I’ve described: “Due to this fact I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to current your our bodies a dwelling and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your religious service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)

Maybe the unprecedented decline in church attendance all through our nation is about greater than what church just isn’t providing us or how secular we’ve develop into; possibly it’s additionally attributable to our defective method to church. Fortunately, it’s not too late. We are able to incorporate liturgy and have interaction every side of public worship with presence and intention towards the forming of our hearts for God. Whenever you wrestle with whether or not to go to church, reframe your participation in worship as a religious follow and see how that modifications your perspective on “The place you’re goin’.”

Copyright 2016 Beth Booram. All rights reserved.