Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why I'm Giving Up Church

Up until last year, I really didn't understand what Lent is. I knew people generally give up something during this time, but never knew (or cared) why. It was finally explained to me that this is a time when people generally slow down and spend more time in prayer. They give up something with the intention of using the time usually spent doing that will be spent spending more time with God.

Last year, instead of giving up something, I made the goal of writing a blog post every day during Lent, with the intention that these posts would make me spend more time with God (prayer, Bible reading, research, more prayer). And, while I know Lent is still a couple weeks away, I decided to start planning this year's Lent season....

Once again, I will be writing every day during the Lent season. But, I am also going to give up something. I am going to give up something, and use the time I'd generally spend at this activity to do something either a) being truly Christian; or b) spending it in prayer.

I am going to give up Church.

I am going to use this time (and every other moment I can) to check up on people who are ill, or who have an ill spouse/child/family member. I am going to let people know they are important. I am going to let people know they are loved. I am going to let them know they are God's children.

I am going to help that person who can't carry the groceries into the car; the one juggling 3 babies in the department store; the one who's lonely and afraid. I'm going to help the one without clothes to wear or food to eat. I am going to help the sad, the frightened, the depressed.

And, some days, I am instead going to spend the time in quiet contemplation with God. There will be no repeating of memorized prayer. There will be no pre-written, mass produced prayers. There will be real, honest, frightening prayers.

I will do what I can, how I can. I will do what is not required, requested or desired. I will spend 40 days learning what it means to truly be a follower of Christ.

I really did not expect this post to get such a negative reaction from people. Apparently, it was misunderstood to assume that a) I'm quitting church all together, and/or b) I'm insulting those within the church. Neither is the case.

I was simply stating that instead of going to a physical church building/service during the Lent season (40 days + Sundays) I'm going to spend time reaching out to others. I love church (most days). I love reading in church. I love singing in church (even though I can't carry a tune). I love the fellowship, and helping with Sunday School. I love the prayers of the service, and listening to the Scripture readings and the sermons.

However, it is easy to start putting the church service above the actions of being a true Christian. It's easy to say "I'm a great Christian because I go to church every Sunday. I don't need to do anything else." It's easy to forget about helping my neighbor. And it's easy to forget about personal prayer time. I, like I'm sure many others, get into the habit of believing we get all the Christian activity necessary taken care of in that one hour on Sundays. The rest of the week is just too busy with work and children and sports and television and Facebook and everything else.

Church starts to actually PULL our attention from God, rather than put it there and hold it there throughout the week. Or, at least, it does for me. And if Lent is about finding time to be closer to God, and setting aside the things that pull our attention away, then it simply made sense that during this season, I would set aside Church (the physical place), and find ways to worship God and find Christian fellowship outside that building. 

I apologize to anyone I have insulted with this post - that was not my intention.

God bless,

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