I fully admit that I used to dislike Sundays.
I DESPISED them.
Did I mention that Sundays were not the most delightful day of the week?
To be fair, I wanted to cherish God’s day. I wanted them to be just like that country song “What I Love About Sundays ” sung by Craig Morgan.
Written by Adam Dorsey and Mark Narmore, this hit country song paints a Norman Rockwell-esque picture about the various characters that make up a church family. From, “The mean little freckle faced kid who broke a window last week” to Sweet Miss Betty who likes to sing off key in the pew behind him, the lyrics speak to the joy, humor and connection that I’d always hoped the seventh day of the week would signify to my family. The song wasn’t about a gathering of perfect people. It was about people gathered about a perfect God. (Yes, please!)
Sadly, the song about my week’s end would easily have been titled, “What I Hate About Sundays.” I used to run around like crazy getting the kids in their “church clothes” while my husband – who was not Christian – took God’s rest day to heart. This meant staying in his bathrobe and playing video games while I drove like a bat out of hell across town to attend mass.
With this very non-Norman Rockwell idea seared in your mind, you might not be surprised that this was a very trying period in my spiritual and marital life. And yet, despite feeling like nothing was working, I knew that God was calling me toward a place of serenity and connection – I just hadn’t found it. Somehow I knew that if I were willing to be brave about who God was, and who I was in God’s plan, I might just find the church for me.
Seven (count ‘em!) seven churches later, I found the home for me. I’m happy to report that my husband, who is still not a Christian, is also attending this church at my side. Even more to the point, I am growing so much at this church – and I feel so comfortable with the people who I attend with – I would be just as fine if Rex never came to church. In fact, for the first six months, I attended 100% solo and I couldn’t have given a rip. It wasn’t about the photo of a “perfect” family sitting side by side in a stuffy pew. It was about me, learning about how I fit into God’s family, and trusting God enough to know that when the timing was right, Rex would show up.
Maybe you’re in a similar place to where I was? Maybe you’re a single mom dragging your child to church and wondering why everyone is giving you the evil eye? Maybe you’re not really getting the evil eye, but you’re just feeling insecure because no one seems to be smiling at church? And this is odd, because isn’t there verse after verse in the Bible telling us to find joy?
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. —Psalms 47:1
I’d like to be bold enough to say that if you’re not excited about church, you’re doing it wrong. Church should not be simply a place to mutter a prayer, follow a ritual and go home and to you a boring routine. Kids in suit – offering in plate – volunteered in Sunday school. Check Check Check… snoooooze.
Church should make you think. It should make you feel welcome. And, most important, it should be rooted in connection/centered in Christ.
The New Testament Version of Church: Did you know that in the early days of the New Testament, the word “Church” did not mean “house of worship?” Instead, it came from the word “Ekklesia” which, transcribed, means “A gathering to all of God’s people which he has assembled out of the world.”
Whenever I hear that word, I’m convinced I’ve found the right place for me. My church experience is not based on its architecture. (And thank God, because it resembles more of a gymnasium than a sacred cathedral.) What it lacks in aesthetics, though, it gains in fellowship. To quote my pastor, this church is where we “do life together.”
In his website, Alan Knox talks a bit about what it means to have ekklesia.
For layman’s terms, in this blog, I’d like to give you 10 things that helped me finally land in a house of worship that has made me truly love Sundays. If you hit seven out of 10 of these, you’re likely in the right place for you! If not, perhaps it’s time to rethink where you’re worshipping.
10 Things to Avoid PTCS – Post Traumatic Church Syndrome
1. Outrageous hospitality: Are people smiling? Are they greeting you? Are they generally happy to welcome you or do they look at you like you’ve got three heads and want to shoot darts in your head?
2. The children’s ministry: Are they open to all kinds of children, from special needs to the truly obnoxious? Is it a place where your babies can grow in God’s Word, or is it just babysitting your heathens?
3. The pastors: Are they relatable? Do they engage you with stories from their own lives, interwoven with the Bible, so that you can see how God’s Word relates to you? Do they practice what they preach or is your hot, new age minister, winking at you over the offering plate?
4. Prayer: Do they encourage you to pray – both in the service and outside the service? Are people really praying, or are they just closing their eyes and sleeping?
5. The teaching: Does the church you attend actively encourage you to read God’s Word? Do you study it at the service so that you’re not just “blindly” believing but can bring an intelligence to your faith? Does the teaching bring you to relationship with God and others, or does it feel like an ugly school marm shoving rules down your throat?
6. Small groups: If your church is large, can you join a small group to break down the pastor’s message for the week? If it’s a small church, are they actively including you in their social activities or do you feel church is one more place to social climb and gossip?
7. The music: Does the music move you or send you into a choir-induced coma? Do you feel invigorated or does the idea of listening to hold-music at the DMV sound more inspiring?
8. Outreach: Does this church practice what it preaches? Is there lots of opportunity to share the Gospel with others or does the term “outreach” simply mean they are “Out” to “reach” into your pockets to build a fancier play area for their fancy preschool patrons?
9. Joy and laughter: Yes, I said “laughter.” Do you feel this is a place that takes Jesus seriously but doesn’t take themselves so seriously? Is this a place you can relax to learn about how Jesus can transform your life and, God forbid, smile while doing so?
10. The perfection factor: Is your church a place you can show up just as you are? Say you have a drinking problem and you know it. Can you only show up when you are sober, or can you show up broken and hurting – just as you are – and find people who will love on you, pray for you and, of course, hold you accountable?
As our pastor talked about a few months back, putting two swords side by side on a table does nothing but produce dullness. It’s the same with people we hang out with. But when swords rub against each other, – as often people do – they get sharp. That’s what church should be.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. —Proverbs 27:17
Given I never iron my husband’s clothes – for our new casual church or for work – this is the verse for me! I sure hope you feel find sharp people at your place of worship. If so, let me hear about it. If not, I want to hear about it also!
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