On Attending Church when it’s Difficult

2018 and 2019 were filled with feeling bad about not going to church but also feeling bad about being there.

Up until mid-way through this year, I wasn’t attending church frequently. Last year I did go somewhere somewhat regularly, but it didn’t feel right so I stopped going. I was caught between wanting to go somewhere so I was going somewhere, but also not wanting to go somewhere just for the sake of it. It was a tough balance to manage, and I still don’t know what the answer is. Was I being picky and judgmental or genuinely trying to find the place God wanted me?

But now I am going to church every week.

It does feel good to be going to a church regularly, though I do miss fellowship with Christians my age. (The church I’m going to is quite small and there are no other young adults.) But again, I didn’t want to go to the church with the abundance of young adults just because of the young adults.

Do you know what I mean?

There are so many aspects that make up a church, so many things I want from church, but no church is perfect. So what aspect do you give up so you can comfortably go somewhere every week without feeling like you’re in the wrong place?

In 2018 I went to a few different churches in the area to figure out where I wanted to go, and it seemed like they all held different aspects that I wanted. One church had amazing worship, and I loved singing there. But it lacked in other areas that I need. And, as I said, the church I go to now has the teaching I agree with, but as the only young adult, it doesn’t feel like my community. I don’t mind talking to the people there, and I don’t feel unwelcome, but it’s not the same as connecting with Christians my age.

On one hand, I don’t think someone should go to church just because they feel obliged to go to church; that’s not necessarily helpful. But on the other hand, I don’t think someone shouldn’t go to church because it doesn’t meet all their criteria.

Where I am now has great aspects. And I do enjoy going every week. But there are times when I think about what I’m not getting.

I suppose there isn’t a clear answer that fits everyone’s case. Every individual needs to ask God if they should be going, where they should be going, etc. For some people, the answer would be to go somewhere that doesn’t feel like home at the beginning. For others it would be trying out different places and waiting a bit longer.

This whole process of going to different churches has opened my eyes as to how God created something perfect and how it’s been broken. (Just like everything else!?) I don’t mean this in a pessimistic way, just an observation that something pure has been tainted by sin. And no matter how good our intentions, church will be imperfect because we are imperfect.

But! In saying this, that isn’t an excuse to judge or criticise or turn our backs on the church. It can be so easy to build negativity and to be bitter. God knows we’re not perfect, and He calls us to be forgiving of others as He is forgiving of us.

In all the imperfections of life, in all the brokenness, I think it’s important to remember Christ’s sacrifice and how much grace we receive every single day.

Church will not always be easy or beautiful or have everything we want. But God is always everything we need, and if He calls us to be somewhere than that is where we must go.

Sarah xx

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