What happened when I went back to church

It had been weeks since I’d darkened the door of a church service. Some of those weeks were circumstantial. Others were because I just slept in. When I walked through the doors, everything was immediately familiar. The people milling about in the lobby, catching up with others over what they had done in the last week since they saw each other. Others were looking for coffee and donuts. Parents were asking where they could take their kids for Sunday school. Yes, it was all familiar…except for one thing.

When I left the service I realized that even though I’d been gone from attending a church service for several weeks, I hadn’t missed out on anything. During the weeks I didn’t attend a service, I still met with other friends who share my faith perspective. We prayed for one another. We had intense spiritual conversations. We shared meals together. I realized even though I had not attended a service, I had not forsaken assembling together with others who follow Jesus. I may have missed some church services, but I had not missed Church.

Also unfamiliar to me was not having the thought, “I have to go to church.” Rather, I woke up thinking, “I think I’ll hit up a service today.” I genuinely wanted to go and was glad I did. I heard some good words from the pastor, enjoyed the time of worship, then met friends for lunch afterward. It was a nice way to spend the Sunday morning.

I doubt that I will attend church services weekly, but I know that when I do it will not be out of a sense of obligation or a response to a marketing campaign designed to entice me to attend or make me feel as though I’m missing something if I don’t catch every week of the current teaching series.

No, when I attend a church service now, it will be because I genuinely desire to be there. And when I do go, I have no doubt that I will be challenged and inspired just as I am when I engage with my believing friends throughout the week which, by the way, actually requires more effort than it does for me to get to a service.

The only difference is I don’t have coffee and donuts with my friends when we hang dollarphotoclub_70765003-825x510out. At least not all the time.

9 thoughts on “What happened when I went back to church

  1. Church should not be just an hour event on the weekends. Church is who we are in Christ. I share many of your sentiments about feeling obligated to attend.
    I don’t attend any one church. Rather, hit up a few on occasion. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but for now it works.

    1. I think it’s a process we all work through. I’ve been attending The Well most often but have also checked out a couple of others. Keep me posted as to your own experiences.

  2. Interesting read, but with all due sincere respect, the thought that comes into my mind is, do we attend service for His glory or our own?

    1. Hi, Javier – that’s a great question. In my years as a pastor, I saw people attend services for a wide variety of reasons, most of which were personal. Nothing we do – whether it’s attend a service, get married, work, etc. – should be done apart from a motivation to give God glory.

      After a treatise on the role liberty plays in the life of a believer, Paul wrapped up his thoughts in 1 Corinthians 10 by writing, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Essentially, Paul is saying do what you like, but do it for the glory of God.

      Let’s also remember that we are not commanded anywhere in Scripture to attend a weekly service. We are directed to not forsake assembling with believers. For more of my thoughts on the difference between the Church and the church, check out a previous article I wrote at https://thisisreylo.com/2016/09/14/for-but-not-with/.

      Thanks for your question, Javier!

      1. Thanks Rey…but again, with all due respect…

        What about the 10 commandments? Specifically, Keep the Sabbath Day Holy? It is in Scripture. As you may remember, Catholics believe in apostolic tradition and scripture, not only in Sola Scriptura. We should worship God in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the mass, for His Glory.


      2. Hi, Javier –

        Sorry for the late reply. It may be important to note that while I was raised Catholic, I no longer adhere to Catholic doctrine so we are each starting from differing theologies.

        I still have great personal affection for my Catholic heritage. But I converted to Protestantism over thirty years ago.

        But, I do appreciate your comments.

  3. Rereading this today Rey & I like you perspective. But a few things come to mind as far as church, first when I first walked into church I heard fellow christians worshipping God in song, & then later I was spiritually feed the word by an anointed pastor. Even though I crave my time out with other believers fellowshipping & sharing what the word of God, I don’t get “filled up” like I do at a weekly church service. Maybe it’s different with you being a former pastor that you can pretty much lead a group of friends in fellowship & all, but I really need & want that weekly fill up. But, I get where your going, #bethechurch is a great theme & we definitely are the church, not the building. I just hope that we as Christians continue to be in the world but not of the world, that we continue to STAND OUT, that at some point people don’t look at us & not be able to tell the difference.

    1. Thanks, Dale! As always, I appreciate your heart. If I may, I want to point out one statement you made that points out how much of our thinking about church is shaped by modern Christian culture.

      You referred to me as a “former pastor.” I never stopped being a pastor. I may not get a paycheck from a church organization, but I still have that calling on my life. In fact, I feel more free to pursue that calling now that I’m not affiliated with an organization.

      I know you didn’t mean anything at all by it, but it was something that struck me as I read your comments.

      Love you, brother!

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