Feeling guilty for not going to church?
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.