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 out. At least not all the time.