I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. I was probably about 5 years old when I accepted Christ as my Savior, and yet this Sunday is the first Easter Sunday service I’ve attended at a church in quite some time. And, let me tell you. It felt SO good!
I don’t normally write a lot about my faith, but I really feel compelled to write today to those of you who read my blog and are of the Christian faith, but don’t attend church on a regular basis.
Some back story might be good — my husband and I met when we were teenagers in our church’s youth group. We were both always raised in church. In the year leading up to our marriage a number of things happened within our church and with Christians in our lives which essentially sent us searching for a new church just after we married in 2005. We found a new church that we liked, but then a few years later, we moved. For the next few years we tried a handful of churches. No matter what church we tried, it never seemed to work out. Sometimes months would go by without us attending church.
My oldest was born and we decided we should make church a regular part of our lives again. The only problem was that every church we tried just did not seem like a good fit for our family. It’s not that they were bad churches necessarily, they just weren’t for us. We either didn’t agree with all the doctrine or we didn’t feel at peace with that church. You guys, we tried a LOT of churches. We could attend a church for months and never feel like a part of it. Eventually, we’d become discouraged and would stop going for months at a time.
This cycle repeated itself over and over again. We honestly would have given up if not for our children. We wanted them in church.
One day this past summer, after months of not attending anywhere regularly, we decided to, yet again, try church. The church we’d been attending here and there just never felt right, so we tried a new church. Marlowe Assembly of God. It was a small, older church about 15 minutes from our house. I didn’t have high hopes to be honest. Neither did my husband. But the goal was to find a church that aligned with our beliefs and then just try to stick with it – for the kids’ sake.
We walked out of our first service at church and my husband and I both agreed, this was IT! This is what we’d been searching for, for ourselves, for our children. Honestly I think we were both a little scared to get our hopes up initially. But we felt refreshed and for the first time in a very long time, we felt at peace. I can’t even fully explain it to you, but this church felt RIGHT.
Now here we are, months later, and I find myself saying on a weekly basis, “I LOVE our church!” For the first time in a very, very long time, this church feels like home. The phrase “church family” is something I can relate to again. I look forward to going to church on Sunday. I’m sad when I have to miss a service. My husband is an usher; I’m working in the nursery. We’ve made friends and developed relationships with the other members of the church. And my kids, they love it too! They even attend classes on Wednesday nights there as well. I find myself wanting to be at church more and more.
So, why am I sharing all of this?
Well, I figure if I have been feeling this way, there have to be other Christians out there who struggle this same way too. It was a horrible, horrible feeling. It felt wrong to not attend church, but even when we did attend church, it didn’t feel “right.” At least not for our family. I was so discouraged. SO DISCOURAGED. There were times when I seriously thought we’d never been genuinely happy in a church again.
I wish in all of those years I’d had someone behind me, encouraging me along. Telling me a church was out there for us. We just needed to keep searching.
I’m here today to tell you, I’ve been there! Keep searching, don’t give up! It’s worth it!
I’m also sharing this because I learned a valuable lesson in all of this. You see, I didn’t think church was really important for me, as an adult. I kept believing we needed to be in church for our children, but I didn’t see the value in it for myself. I didn’t think it had an effect on my relationship with God. Now I realize, I was wrong. Being a part of a church where you are connected and forming relationships with other Christians, it changes you. For the better. Having a pastor who is encouraging you and pointing to you to God on a weekly basis, it helps to fuel you. I never lost my faith, all of those years of not belonging to a church, but I also didn’t feel like I was growing in my faith. This period in our lives was such a good reminder of the importance of the church in a believer’s life.
Can I encourage you today, if you can relate, to give church a try again? I promise you, if you keep looking, there really is a church out there that’s perfect for you!
Hebrews 10:24-25 – New Living Translation
(24) Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (25) And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.