By Abby Hersh (Ready For The Harvest Intern)
Have you ever faced very real spiritual resistance towards being involved in a church community, especially on Sundays?
I have to confess that this has become a major battle for me as of a few months ago. There’s never been a time that I’ve regretted attending a wonderful church… the message is always timely and applicable; the worship powerful and connecting; the volunteering meaningful and eye-opening; the time spent in community encouraging (or at least stretching in a needed way, while building new relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ). It’s a wonderful, refreshing start to the week and perfect way to give thanks to our glorious Lord. Yet as of late, it feels like a huge struggle to get there.
If I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit this problem seems to have started soon after getting turned down for a spot on the church’s worship team. (It’s a small-but-mighty congregation that’s still quite new, and the leaders chose about a third of us who auditioned to join their talented team.) I felt their decision was completely fair, as they had expectations of excellence and I’m by no means a highly skilled singer yet; nor had I been attending the church for very long. It was an awkward in-between phase for me, having recently transferred out of my last church of 3.5 years and trying to find grounding somewhere new and close to home. My not getting chosen for worship made absolute sense, but (not likely by strange coincidence) it seems to have become extremely difficult to make it back into that building after that. In fact, I have not been back to the church since receiving that news in September. The funny thing is that it wasn’t even a permanent “no”. They emphasized to us that more auditions would be held throughout the year, and we’d always be welcome to come back and give it another try. Was my pride really so wounded that I couldn’t just continue attending and practicing my vocals until the goal was reached? Did I allow a spirit of offense to slip into my heart?
Beyond what happened with this particular congregation though, it’s been an uphill battle to make it to any Sunday service at all lately; a strange pattern of feeling extremely tired and heavy shortly before it’s time to go, and never quite being ready on time. I’ll find subtle reasons to delay the getting-ready, until I’m delayed to a point of being too embarrassed to even show up. Then I decide to just stay in, or go run errands. “Next week I’ll get ready sooner,” I say to myself. “Next week I’ll definitely be there.” But then the same problem repeats itself the following week!
I really WANT to go. I truly want to honor Jesus in that way, and be in beautiful community and service with fellow believers. But to my flesh it suddenly becomes the most unappealing thing in the world to step outside my home. I may get other chores, errands and to-dos accomplished instead, but it never ends with a real sense of accomplishment. By Sunday evening I never feel like it was a better decision to cook, vacuum, grocery shop and tidy up over attending church. Sincere apologies are sent up to Jesus for failing yet again; for not being present and showing that He’s worth that time to me. I pray for His help in getting back on track with it. At some point though, I need to finally take charge and make a change.
I’d prefer to be writing this blog at a point where I’ve already achieved victory and redirected the habit back to where it should be; but it felt more honest (and perhaps helpful towards reaching that victory) in bringing it up right in the midst. If you are someone who is going through a similar season of struggling to commit to a church community, let’s be prayer warriors for one another. Let’s pray for Jesus’ help in getting to the root of this spiritual and mental block, and being freed of it. Let’s reach out to believers we know and trust for support and accountability. (Even if it takes being picked up on Sunday and riding along with someone, we’re not meant to journey through the Christian walk alone.) It might also benefit us greatly to schedule an appointment with a quality inner healing or sozo ministry, to help break down any walls, strongholds, believed lies, unforgiveness, etc. that we may be captive to. Since the Church mattered so much to Jesus, it can and should matter greatly to us as well. To allow this commitment to fall to the wayside is to remove a huge amount of growth, strengthening and fulfillment from our lives. We simply cannot allow the enemy, nor the demands of the times, to tear apart and isolate us. Let’s get back on the battlefield Church family, our Lion of Judah leading the way, and be the Bride that witnesses His love conquering all darkness!
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”” -Matthew 18:20 (NLT)
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13-16 (MSG)