What happened when I stopped going to Church?

Today I returned to church after what felt like an age. This wasn't intentional; it wasn't a reflection on my thoughts about my faith; it wasn't because I was offended or because I don't enjoy church - it was simply because life happens.


Now to give you a bit of context, I am actively involved in my local church. Church is a priority for us as a family and we go to church every week, we serve in the kid's ministry and we're a part of the community. I realise that there are lots of very valid reasons why people don't get to church on a Sunday and that's absolutely cool - but the last month or so was out of the ordinary for me, and I've been reflecting a bit on the impact that it might have had on me, my family and my relationship with God.

Around the middle of March we had a bout of sickness in my household which meant that I missed a Sunday at church while I cared for a vomiting child; the following week I was serving in the kid's ministry and that then launched us into a really busy season.

We didn't attend church on April 7th because I had just been at a conference all week and it was my daughter's birthday party that afternoon. The week after, was the week that Joel had started to potty train so we were pretty much confined to the house for a few days. The 21st was Easter Sunday and whilst I was at church, I was serving in the kid's ministry. April 28th we were in London for the weekend for a family party, and then May 5th we were recovering from a long day in London on the Saturday.

Out of 10 Sundays, I was either not there, or serving in Kids for seven of them.

I don't want to get bogged down in the details, but my point is, it happens so easily. Life happens, kids are crazy, family priorities take over and then before you know it, you've gone six to eight weeks without taking part in corporate worship.

Now, I would like to claim that my lack of church attendance didn't affect me in the slightest. I mean, we would all like to think that we're strong enough to go it alone, right? And whilst there's nothing magical about the building, and I'm sure there are many Christians out there who either through circumstance or choice don't faithfully attend a worship service every week, there is a biblical reason why we attend church.

And boy, I have totally come to realise what that is!

So, what were the affects of me not attending church?

Well, you know my Bible in a Year plan that I was totally rocking? The kids getting sick totally blew that out of the window!

At first it was just a couple of days, which then ran into a week... or two... and then rather than just me not finding that focus in my day, it became that I actually didn't want to. I didn't even think about it. I was tired, I was stressed out; I just wanted to binge watch Modern Family of an evening rather than read my Bible!

And so with the church attendance went the bible reading, which had a knock on effect on the active prayer life that I was cultivating... and then all of a sudden God was a second thought. He was still there, I still thought about him on occasion, my job still required me to give Him consideration, but He was securely on the sidelines of my day, rather than the priority!

So then what happened? Well, with all the busyness of life, came stress, and I don't know about you, but the more chaotic my life gets, the more chaos pursues me! I am currently looking around my living room and it is a mess. Now, I'm not a Pinterest mamma who lives in a perfect house - far from it - but there is something very true about the phrase 'tidy house, tidy mind'! And you can surely judge the state of my mind, by the state of my house!!

So basically, the house is a mess, no one has clean clothes, I've been disorganised with food shopping, which means we've eaten out more, and had more takeaways - which now means I feel gross and my bank balance is not thanking me!

And then there's the emotional side of it - I went from being a perfectly happy person to being depressed, melancholic, stressed and deeply unmotivated. I had no patience with my kids. I was too tired to even speak to my husband and my anxiety was through the roof! I was physically exhausted too - I would get home from work and have a nap before putting the kids to bed!

Coincidence? Possibly. I don't know.

What I do know, is a couple of weeks off church became almost two months, and then the circumstances of life got on top of me and pretty soon I was carrying burdens that quite simply, I'm not meant to carry.

Yesterday we attended a family worship service with our children, today we went to church for the first time in weeks.

And right now? I feel great.

I feel free.

There is something to be said about spending time in an atmosphere of faith. There is something to be said about resting in the presence of God, taking all of your baggage to Him and leaving it with Him on a weekly basis. There is much to be said about hearing the Word of God being taught and having it challenge you or comfort you, and of course being surrounded by people who love you and who care about you and your family.

It is in this environment that we thrive. Church sets you up to face the rest of your week, empowered and strong. Of course, we have a responsibility to maintain our own relationship with God and of course that was clearly a part of my unravelling - but the Bible is clear - "let us not neglect our meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25).

I don't believe that church is a crutch for weak people. I don't believe that our feelings should dictate our lives, or our faith. But I do believe that we are whole people and that when we take a holistic look at our lives, we can see patterns of emotion or behaviour that are not healthy. If we then search for triggers, they are often easily found in the state of our relationship with God and the quality of the time that we spend with Him.

Church is not the magic formula, there are no rules that state we must attend, and no one should feel guilty if they don't. Church is a community of people rather than a building or an institution, and I'm sure there are many people who attend church regularly who have no faith in Jesus at all, and also many spirit-filled Christians who don't have a Church to call home.

But Church is the one thing that Jesus said He would build, so it must be pretty important, right?


Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

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