I struggle with going to church.
Like. A lot.
And yet, it plays an important part in my life. Besides the many verses that encourage us to be a part of a faith community — Hebrews 10:25 comes to mind — I notice a real difference in my life when I attend church regularly.
There’s something about being in the midst of a faith community that helps me know I am not alone in this faith journey.
It also serves as a refocusing moment by reminding me again of who Jesus is, why I love and serve Him, and how my life belongs to Him.
But even so, going to church is tough for me.
And I think this is largely because the nature of contemporary church today is opposite of pretty much my entire personality for three big reasons.
1. Like a crotchety senior citizen, church is too loud for me.
Most contemporary churches today are on the loud side. I probably sound like an old woman saying this, but it’s tough for me to enjoy that type of environment.
It’s easier for me to encounter God in quiet, reflective moments. I appreciate music that is present, but not overpowering.
But in many of the contemporary churches I’ve visited over the last few years, there is little to no quiet.
You enter the sanctuary to music. Then you sing a few worship tunes. The worship seamlessly transitions to a sermon, which ends with a closing song.
Sound fills every moment, to the point that I can’t even consider what is being sung or spoken about.
2. Crowds are my least favorite thing.
Many contemporary churches that I’ve attended also have a lot of people.
That can be awesome because it allows you to find people you can relate to easily.
But the downside is that for introverts like me, going to church is exhausting. Crowds of people feel more draining than inspiring.
I actually feel like I can’t think or form thoughts when I’m in the lobby at church after service. All I want to do is get out.
Plus, there’s something very isolating about being in a crowd when you don’t know many of the people. And it feels too overwhelming to start conversations with others. So often, you just leave.
We are all so polished.
This one doesn’t even make complete sense to me, but I’ll try to explain.
We should, as believers, want to do everything with excellence — including church. We should desire to portray the joy of Christianity to others.
But there’s something about that desire that eventually begins to feel to me like a facade.
Like we’re all putting our best foot forward, striving to be “appropriate” more than striving to be honest. Pushing to be “polished,” rather than focusing on being authentic.
And that’s just not what I’m looking for when I’m at church. I want everyone to be honest about their failures, sins and screw-ups. Because isn’t that what we all are? Screwed-up sinners who realize their need for grace?
But instead, we seem to exchange pleasantries and behave appropriately without much of a desire to show our true selves.
While logically this makes sense to me because we can’t have deep exchanges with every single person, there’s still a part of me that feels it is dishonest.
At least, that’s how I feel whenever I respond to a pleasantry saying, “I’m fine,” when I’m really not fine. Why is it not socially acceptable at church to say, “Life is hard”?
Good thing it’s not all about me.
So yes, I struggle with going to church.
I often get there only by clinging to the knowledge of what the Bible says about it. Articles like this have also been helpful.
But I also frequently remind myself of one key truth: It really isn’t about me.
Church isn’t all about my preferences or my personality or what I think is best.
In fact, some of the very things I struggle with the most may be the things God wants to use to grow and refine me.
And perhaps the things I notice that bother me are things I can address –and remedy with humility and wisdom. After all, I am part of the church!
There are times and places to change churches, of course. But for myself, I’ve had to learn to commit to less-than-perfect places because, after all, I am less-than-perfect myself.
It may not be everything I want it to be. But it isn’t all about me. And God can still use it in my life and the lives of others — even if I struggle to go there sometimes.