I’ve been attending church my entire life. As a child, I don’t remember ever actively balking at the prospect of going to church, though I’m sure in middle and high school there were times I would’ve preferred to sleep in. My first two years of college, I did a fair amount of “church shopping,” as well as some intentional skipping. For the last two years, I’ve been attending a church I have grown to love, and have become quite involved there.
Finally, after over 22 years of attending church, I think I’m finally beginning to understand why I need it.
As I stood in church this morning, my soul sighed in rest. This is where it belongs. Worshiping, surrounded by other believers–this is what my soul needs.
During the week, I go to work. I go to classes where I am the teaching assistant, and leave with stacks of papers to grade. I go to Bible study once or twice. I grade the stacks of papers. I hang out with friends. I watch TV. And so forth. In their own way, these are good things, even necessary. These are the day-to-day bits that make up a life.
But they are often tiring, stressful, wearying. They take their toll, in all sorts of ways.
Church is a recharge for my soul.
In so many ways.
I love to sing, but I love to sing most when they are songs of worship and praise offered to God. I love (and hate) the way the sermon often seems to be intended specifically for me, and I find myself examining my life, determining things that need to change or I need to be cautious of. I love seeing friends, and greeting new ones.
Not every church has these elements, every week, for every person. As a whole, the church is not a perfect institution. On an individual level, no specific church is perfect, even mine. Most weeks I can’t wait to go to church; but this phase of wanting so desperately to go to church will not last forever. This is the first time in my life that I can say that with any sort of consistency, and as with all things, it will go in cycles. But I truly hope and believe I continue to go to church even when I do not feel like it.
Because church has praise. Worship. Community. These are the things my soul needs.
This is why I need church.
Til next time…
p.s. Church can be a touchy topic. What do you think about it?
7 thoughts on “I Need Church”
I’ll step up to the mic on this one, Brianna, but take what I say with a grain of salt because my perspective on church is weird. My sister is just like you. She can’t wait to go to church. In fact, she just told me she wishes services were longer. She goes to Bible study, small groups, etc, and really feels that God is calling her to be where she is.
I will go months and months without attending church, but after being worn down by the world and not talking with Christians for a while, I inevitably wake up on some Sundays and just feel this deep need to go connect with the corporate body. I find that all these people care about me and want to know what I’ve been up to, encourage me, etc… and I go… why don’t I come here every week?
Then I start going more regularly, and within a month I’m disillusioned and annoyed because I don’t seem to fit in at all. First of all, Christianese. I don’t speak it, so I often stop people mid sentence and ask them to translate. But that’s awkward, so if I can’t bring myself to be assertive about it, then the conversation from then on is not genuine. I had this happen today. A guy just spoke to my face for 20 minutes about all of his beliefs and history while I nodded my head and tried to act interested. Those conversations don’t do anything for me because they may be real for whoever is speaking, but I don’t actually know what it means, for example, when they say, “God spoke to my heart and told me this or that.” Plus people have vastly different theologies within the same church. Some people preach to you that God has a plan for your life. Some claim they’ve heard God’s actual voice in their ears. Others tell you that if you swear it means your relationship with God is growing cold. Some people love Bible thumping. Others hate it. In other words, everyone has an opinion, just like in the rest of the world.
We’re all mixed together in this room, and sometimes by the end of a service I go home and have to take the entire day to heal from the damage it does to me. I literally have to shower off the church on me, get it off my skin and out of my head. The other issue is that I have a very hard time with worship music. I don’t identify with it or particularly understand it (yet I can blast music in the car and sing along loudly because it moves me emotionally).
The format of Sunday morning church is also very frustrating for me because I can’t pause the speaker and respond with a question or a comment. I can’t ask for qualification or definition. It’s a lecture, and most times a great one (because I love my pastor), but it still feels isolating. I like small groups a lot more.
It’s not that I think the church is doing anything wrong. It’s just people being people, and everyone has good intentions. I think it’s just me.
Having said that, I don’t stop going. So apparently it’s doing something for me.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this because I don’t understand what it’s like to find consistent comfort in going to church.
Luke, thanks for sharing this.
I think you phrase it so well when you say you “just feel this deep need to go connect with the corporate body.” I think the concept of “church” is rooted in our desire and need to to connect with other believers. Rarely does this go perfectly, however. As you mention, even within the same church Christians hold different beliefs about topics, and seem to find even small things to disagree about–it can be incredibly disheartening. At the same time, differences can be what make church so great, as people from different backgrounds come together with one common purpose. I’m learning that different, even when it comes to some things within the church, is not necessarily bad. It’s just different, which can sometimes be hard for me to accept.
You bring up a very valid point about the damage church can cause. I think almost everyone who has ever gone to a church with any consistency, myself included, has been wounded in one way or another by it. And it really stinks. But for me, that’s not enough reason to stay away. I can say I’ve truly been blessed (and I don’t use that word lightly) by the community of believers I’m now a part of, even in all our imperfections. Jesus never said following him would be easy, and I think that goes for church as well. I truly believe Christians are called to be a part of a body of believers (and that can take many forms), but that doesn’t mean it will always be the easiest, most enjoyable thing we do. Sometimes we are called to the uncomfortable, even if that’s church.
I hope that was helpful in some way, and thanks again for sharing.
I like your point about having to put effort into it. Church shouldn’t just serve you – you should serve the church as well. In fact, the fact that we’re all different should actually be used as an exercise for what we’re trying to be in the first place. I think that’s the reason I keep “tolerating” it. I get more good out of it than bad. I also think it’s very lightly I just haven’t found a good fit, and maybe one day I’ll find one that I can really engage in.
As opposed as I am to the general idea of “church shopping,” on some level I think it’s necessary in order to find a church that fits you…which also gets tricky, because ultimately, church isn’t REALLY supposed to be about US, it’s about GOD.
Still, it finally occurred to me as I drove away from a church I attended for a while with tears streaming down my face that I don’t think that’s what God wants for us either. There is such a balance here, of finding what church really means and approaching it with the mindset of ultimately bringing glory to God, but also realizing that I don’t think God wants us to be miserable in church.
This was how I felt about my church in GR. I went to Calvary on the Beltline and every time, God met me, and often, He simultaneously wrecked me. I can’t even describe what it was like to meet God in that way.
My home church in metro Detroit, and where I’m going since moving back east, is a good, biblically solid church, and I enjoy being there, but it isn’t the same. I definitely agree with you: not every church has those elements, every week, for every person.
That’s a great way of putting it–“God met me, and often, He simultaneously wrecked me.” It’s sometimes painful, but good. Thanks for stopping by!