Do You Really Need To Go To Church?

In a word? No. But if I left it at that this wouldn’t be much of a blog post.

I was perusing Pinterest this gray and cold Sunday morning and came across a pin from a christian mommy blog posing the question ‘Do we really need to attend church?’ – I told myself not to click on it, don’t go there… but like the train wreck… click!

The blogger gave a list of reasons as to why ‘yes, absolutely you should go to church each and every Sunday morning’; a list that included a half dozen or so reasons the Bible gives for actually getting up and going to church. In other words, there’s no cheating. You can’t sleep-in, stay in your jammies and turn on the morning t.v. or online evangelist because that would be lazy!

Of course, the article starts with the most prominent of all reasons: The Bible says so.  It goes on from there with the list of reasons I can sum up in one sentence:  This verse says if you don’t get up, get yourself and your family ready, drive to church and fellowship with other people in the name of worship, you are lazy and you don’t have the respect, reverence and love for God you should have… shame on you. (I’m totally paraphrasing here, but seriously that’s about the gist of all of it.)

Here’s what the average christian will take from this list: Guilt. Plain and simple. When I and my husband attended our last church – we’ve been free for about 8 years now – the pastor would start every sermon with the same statement: “Thank you for being faithful this morning…”. Sometimes it would differ slightly, but the take-away was that those who were in attendance at the time of his sermon were the faithful and you always wanted to be one of the faithful so regardless of health, weather, busy schedules or cold-ridden children, you showed up in your pew.

Here’s the thing: I don’t ever remember hearing about Jesus’ Sunday morning schedule. I don’t recall hearing about him making the case for being the first one in line to enter the synagog on the Sabbath. Was he lazy? For cryin’ out loud, even God took a day off!

Let’s break it down to the simplest common denominator; the church is a building used for large groups to get together and socialize and share a common interest, their faith, while also performing charitable acts for the community. This building and it’s social club is run by humans… usually men, but also women. If recent history, with it’s horrific scandals and abuse have told us anything its that the church is by far one of the largest and most effective social networks run by incredibly imperfect people. It only takes a Google search to find some of the most egregious scandals that have rocked the church world in past 20 years or so. One that stands out is the story of the very outspoken anti-gay evangelist Ted Haggard who was the pastor of a mega-church that was slammed to it’s knees by the scandal exposing that the pastor had same-sex relations and had dabbled in meth. Just. Wow.  I won’t even bring up the whole catholic priest pedophile thing. (<– okay, I just did.)

Again, humans telling other human beings how to behave divinely or go to hell is never going to turn out good. But the worst part is when you are a part of that flock believing there is something special about you because you follow and hang on every word given by these fellow humans who stomp, thump and wave their bibles on Sunday morning. I’ve been there, done that and never going back. It literally scares me to think about the fact that I was a part of it.

Do you know how I spent my Sunday morning? After feeding the cats and dog, I grabbed my coffee (of course) walked over to the sliding glass doors that lead to my deck and looked out into the woods behind our home and watched the snow fall. It was beautiful. Big, fluffy flakes wistfully floating down. I opened the door and stood there listening to the birds with their Sunday morning hymns and I basked in the glory that was God himself. Not a building, just trees and snow. No choir or preaching, just the birds and a few deer wandering by. No commandments, gossip or nursery duty. Just peace.

The next time you struggle with whether to get up early and take the clan to church, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can I serve the community, give to charity and care about my fellow citizens without going to church?
  2. Do I need the approval of the people at church to feel like I am of value? Do I really need to be around other people of faith to feel like I fit in somewhere?
  3. Is the only accountability available to me the kind I would receive in a church? Can I be and remain a good person without the weekly check in?
  4. How will it benefit myself and my family if I stay at home this Sunday? Will fixing a big breakfast at a leisurely hour, listening to music and allowing everyone to relax and enjoy the gift of this beautiful morning make us happy, smile?

And lastly…

Will God still love me?

My friend, if you have to ask that last question, then church hasn’t been helping much.

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