Skip to content

Feeling guilty for not going to church?

August 24, 2008

Someone asked me yesterday, “What would it look like to walk with Jesus outside the box of institutional Christianity?” This person is very connected with other Christians, meeting up for prayer, chats over coffee, a home-based Bible study, and lots of one-on-one meetings with Christians and non-Christians. I simply said, “Subtract the Sunday meetings at 11:00 and 6:00 and there’s your answer! That will give you more time to pursue the relationships that I know you really thrive on.” He said, “Oh, yeah, I see. But then I’ll feel guilty for not going to church.”

Some people have a difficult time letting go and some even go back after leaving the institutional church. Whether you leave altogether or continue to attend Sunday meetings, your main priorities are loving God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength…and loving your neighbor as yourself. There may be times when you sincerely miss the contact with brothers and sisters in Christ from your previous church connection; so why not drop in from time to time, join them in praising God corporately, and linger over the fellowship time. However, you may find it more painful or frustrating to re-engage people in that particular context and, if so, perhaps you can still maintain those relationships in more neutral surroundings. Invite them over for dessert or a meal. Let them know you treasure their friendship and that you have no intentions of giving that up, just because you no longer attend their Sunday meetings. Some may not understand, no matter how hard you try to explain the way you feel.

But really, there’s no place for guilt in your spiritual life simply because you have chosen to walk a different path, one that perhaps few people are willing to travel. The time may come when more may join us in the journey, but for now it may be a quite lonely road.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2008 1:15 am

    Nice blog! Thanks for having me on your blogroll, and I’ll definitely be back to read more from your corner of the blogosphere.

  2. September 16, 2008 12:16 am

    lonely indeed… but I’m working on getting rid of the guilt. Thanks 🙂

  3. November 6, 2008 6:01 am

    Very true. It is very fearful for some to picture what following Jesus would like without the building, the programs, the, the, the… I often wonder if the best thing that could happen to us is if all the “stuff” of Christendom vanished and all we were left with was each other, Jesus and love. I am finding myself welcome more and more the margins. In fact, most of my voting yesterday was slanted towards pushing Christianity out of the central power and into the margins. Thanks for sharing your words. Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll?

  4. Derek permalink
    December 2, 2008 6:31 am

    I think you’re right that the traditional structures of faith may not be uplifting for the next wave of Christiandom.

    However, if even the most austere monastics (Carthusians) who eat one meal a day, live without electricity or running water, wear burlap clothes and, oh yeah, don’t even speak to one another due to a vow of silence find the need to live in a community, then perhaps there is something essential to community.

    the most uniquely Christian tradition of the Eucharist is, essentially, a meal shared with friends. I think this points to a group as being central to the nature of Christian worship.

    I’m as averse to the seeker-centric mega-churches and the fundamentalist outlook that dominates every Church I’ve found, but I still go, not out of some sense of guilt if I don’t, but because maybe this week I’ll find the community that I can feel at home in and then we can grow together.

  5. admin permalink
    December 2, 2008 10:22 am

    I appreciate everyone’s kind remarks!

    Derek: Of course! I agree that community is essential, but attending the same event once or twice a week does not necessarily foster the sort of community we really need. It would be strange indeed for a follower of Jesus to live a life isolated from other brothers and sisters in the faith, but there are wonderful alternatives to the inherited traditions of the institutional church. Personally, I couldn’t do what you’re doing, although I completely understand the hunger for community that drives you.

  6. Derek permalink
    December 2, 2008 6:54 pm

    You’re right, being in a crowd isn’t the same as being in a real community.

    And your right as well in saying that church doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to be defined only to incorporate our modern congregational centers (certainly the early church, roman church, medieval church and renaissance churches looked and worshiped quite differently than todays do). There are a great deal of issues stemming from a powerful, institutionalized system that the church doesn’t seem to recognize or concern itself with.

    But their are problems with a non-centralized religion as well. Problems that I’ve seen a great deal of people take for granted in an effort to rid themselves of the legacy of the structured churches.

    I don’t mean to offend and I certainly don’t want to be accusatory. I’m merely providing a counter balance. I love your blog and look forward to more insightful, instructive posts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: