Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What About Sundays?

Thou shalt be in church on Sunday morning...

Oh wait, where is that found in the Bible? Um, nowhere. But it does say they should be a day of rest, a day to be kept HOLY.

So, Sunday's have been a bit of a difficult day for us over the past year. Our family dynamic has drastically changed as our son grows from 'portable infant' to 'rambunctious toddler' and so we haven't been out to many public places during certain hours of the day. Church being one of them.

It wasn't as difficult, up until about a year ago, when he started getting mobile. Until then, we were more the 'sit at the back & hope he doesn't make too much noise' church goers. But once he was on the move, it got more & more difficult to be there. The church didn't have a nursery or a place we could take him, or lay him down or any of that stuff. So, it was awkward & frustrating for one or both of us to keep him entertained or quiet or away from dangerous or dirty stuff. It just didn't seem worth the effort or the feelings of stress it caused me while I was sitting there. Church shouldn't be stressful, so I wasn't getting much out of it anyways.

Then, his nap scheduled changed, and for the last 10 or so months, he's been having a nap between the morning hours of 9am and 11:30am. Its a good schedule for us, the rest of the week, but it makes trying to go to church pretty much impossible.

And we've tried. Despite him being extra cranky for us denying him his morning nap, we've tried. We've sought out a few other churches that claim to offer nursery care, but in a town that caters to its retired community, the nursery care options were seemingly non-existant, so we've spent a few church services with one of us entertaining him out in the foyer, among glares from seniors who are looking at these noisy young visitors with disdain. Oh yeah, like we really felt welcome & eager to try those churches again.


So, we have sort of given up for the present, knowing that eventually he will outgrow this morning nap. (although I'm certainly not in a rush for it) and that we can one day again get out to a church service on a Sunday morning.

But its annoys me some Sundays too. Like why do we sit here feeling guilty because our butts aren't planted in a pew on Sunday mornings? While there are many references to the first day of the week, gathering together with believers & keeping the day holy (and not working) why do we have to feel guilty when we aren't there. We want to be there, we want to spend time with other believers, but why does it ONLY have to be on Sundays to have that expected fellowship?

Don't get me wrong, I know that many of you have church groups, prayer meetings, Bible studies, and get togethers on other days or even NIGHTS of the week, but there is still always the guilt of not being there on the Sunday morning, like that particular morning is the be all to end all of being a Christian.

I read my Bible nearly daily, I pray, I sing, I worship, I listen to sermons & inspirational preachers, and I don't limit that to Sundays. But I still have a bit of an empty guilt-ridden feeling that we aren't somewhere in a church on a Sunday morning.

I saw this saying on Facebook:

"Sitting in a church makes you no more a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you a car."

Funny, true, sad also. Because that's how we judge. I was one of them too. How can you be a Christian, you never come to church on Sunday? Now I'm feeling the other end of that & it sucks! And its sadly alienating too. Like after a few Sundays of not showing up, you kind of get written off, and then there is even less chances of fellowship, growth or understanding and its like a downward spiral, like its assumed you've given up on God or something. No, we haven't given up on God, and He certainly hasn't given up on us. We've just temporarily had to take a break from the attendance of a church building on a Sunday morning.

We hope to have it again in our future. We hope to not have to feel guilty about it because we aren't there in the present. We hope for understanding, and we hope to BE more understanding when someone else faces the same challenges that we are.


  1. Sheila12:34 PM

    Hey Beck...
    I agree with the fact that you don't have to attend a sunday morning service. I would however encourage you in 2 areas which we often fulfill on Sunday morning.
    The first is the gathering together with other believers-for encouragement, accountability, and many other benefits. That is commanded in the scripture, but I don't think that it has to be on a Sunday morning in a church.
    The second is for instuction and reflection of scripture and Christ.
    That said..if you are able to get those criteria met with other believers at other times, then shake off the burden of guilt! You know if you are in a right relation with God, and guilt is not from Him!!

  2. Anonymous1:06 PM


    Interesting read....you are certainly not alone in your feelings. Many evangelical churches (especially rural ones) have done a very poor job at helping people with young children find fellowship.

    As I think you know, my wife and I are brand new in a community of about 1500 people in small town Alberta. One of the things Karen did right away was attend our local parent and toddlers group to get to know some of the community moms. Within the first few weeks two different families mentioned that they have not attended church in years because church isn't "kid friendly". My wife assured them that our church is different, and that her kids could be loud/themselves without fear of the "old person stare". We are blessed with older folks who love kids.

    Both of those families decided the gamble was worth it, and both regularly attend our church now. All that to say...churches that only cater to themselves, their own likes and desires are not "being the church". It is unfortunate that your experience in your local gatherings has not been positive, and churches ought to stand up and take notice of stories like this. The church is not supposed to be something that "caters to the consumer", but it is supposed to love and care for people, even those with mobile young children. The church that doesn't will die out quickly.

    With all that being said however, I would argue that giving up church for a time is a poor option. As humans we are obviously created to be in relationship as well as grow in relationship, we need fellow Christians for our good as well as theirs.

    While you most certainly can grow from reading your Bible, praying, listening to sermons, you are not doing that in the context of a community which prays for you, holds you accountable, and worships with you. Part of being the body of Christ means that each of us exercise the gifts that we have. If you and your husband are absent from church for an extended time the problem is not just that you aren't being fed, it's that your gifts are not being used within the context of the body like they could be. In a sense, the body of Christ (and I would argue the local expression of that) is robbed when we are not using our God given gifts for Kingdom purposes.

    You know scripture....of course there is nothing mandating that you go to church...(Heb 10:25 would be closest to a command)....but it is not just for your benefit that you are there, it is also a benefit for the rest of the local body in that place. It sounds like they could use some help!!!! (sorry if that is too bold or unfair of statement on my part, I really do not know your church at all)

    Over all, I emphasize......but there has to be a different ground than the one you are on. Guilt because you are not in church is probably not of Satan.....

    It would be nice to see churches get serious about helping young parents teach their children the gospel in a loving way. I am sorry that you know of the pain that churches cause they are less than accepting, but as you suggest at least now you can make sure that doesn't happen to other young families.

    My 2 cents.

    Anyway...Becky, I'll be praying for you and your family. I saw your post of this on FACEBOOK and decided to read your blog for the first time. Be blessed as you figure this stuff out.

    Ian (from MC)

  3. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Oh...sorry I met empathize not "emphasize"

  4. Thanks for the thoughts guys! I appreciate the Godly insight, truly. Sheila - its definitely the encouragement & accountability that we are missing, and not for lack of trying, but recently, since our house has been for sale, we feel like we have one foot already out of this town so its even harder to want to try & make new friends.
    Ian - sounds like you've got a great family oriented church and I love that Karen met new women at a Mom's type group. It is what I desire too, to meet with more younger Godly women/moms, and I know that even in this 'old person' town, there has got to be a few of them :) Thanks for the prayers & Biblical insight! Blessings to you too!

  5. My husband says that his church is riding through God's creation on his motorcycle, "It can bring me to tears," he says, regarding worshiping God in the wild.

    I think there are seasons. Seasons when one can act like a "traditional" Christian, and seasons when one has to be more creative. One is not better than the other. Just like food, a balanced diet is good. We can experience church/worship in different ways at different times of our lives.

    Sometimes when the kids were elementary age, and we couldn't get to church (for any reason) we had church at home. I loved these times! Sometimes we would watch a movie about Jesus or a Biblical character, or we would simply read a chapter in the Word...ten pray...then go about our day. (Quality is more important than quantity--keep attention span issue in mind) The most important thing is for your children to see that you love the Lord....any day of the week!

    I DID go riding! I'll be posting soon. I'm trying to get the time to post---you know how that is! (I'm working summerschool for handicapped kids and caretaking an elderly woman in the afternoon.)

  6. Melinda5:39 PM

    Becky, its funny that you post about this now....as Henry and I have just begun to attend a church again in about 10 years anyhow.. we were both brought up as twice on sunday church attenders and continued for a goodly number of years during our marriage. However because of certain circumstances that made it uncomfortable for us, one of which was the treatment of our developmentally disabled child who functioned well and so was not treated with the consideration he needed - but not only because of that...we started to not go. We then realized that nobody noticed that we had gone..until someone saw us in a restaurant about a year and a half later and exclaimed to us that they missed us so much there. That was bull becasue if we had been missed,(and we had been active members) it would have been noticed a lot sooner than a year and a half. When the elders reslized we weren't coming back they asked us where we wanted our membership to be transfered to, I told them "send it to Heaven". There was a lot of hurt on our part and that was/is OUR problem not the church's. But over the years, we have been to various churches looking for one to make a church home in. One that we could realisticlly become a part of and that didn't involve two hours of driving...because in order to belong, especcially with kids, you also want to take part in the weekly parts of church membership....we found some but never felt the need to commit to these becasue there was just not a spirit that urged us to keep on with those ones. Either we felt unwelcome or the service was just too alternative for us(and we like alternative but aren't used to wild and crazy) It is fine to not attend church because the church is not a building - it is people. And I beg to differ with Ian in that you may be withholding your gifts that are meant to be shared with the body of Christ. I have found that it is IN the world that your Christian gifts are needed to be shared rather than insulated inside the safety and familiarity of your church...so that when you are approached, or find an opportunity, you may share the Grace of God with people who are also unchurched. BUT having said that, I will confess to have missed the fellowship and tradition and that you need to make sure that you don't become lazy and neglect your need to be nourished spiritually as well. AND it is harder to raise a child without the support of a church environment although it dosen't sound like yours was very supportive anyhow. Guilt is not of the Lord. He removed our guilt when he saved us. Regret, yes.....we felt that numerous times over those years too, we just gave up after a while, but never guilt. The encouraging thing is, there WILL come a time when you feel able and or willing to be "churched"again. We have found one finally that we really feel confortable in, and perhaps, this is what God wants...we'll see. Its early yet. :) Sometimes Christians are their own worst enemies, and I say that tongue in cheek but we sure don't behave towards one another the way we expect Christians to treat others. Ah well, Henry and I have come to realize that the perfect church dosen't exist,or rather, WON'T exist until Christ returns to gather His people together again...THAT will be the perfect church. Until then, we Christians have to love, learn , tolerate and care for each other no matter what "season" of churchiness we happen to be in. So, don't be so hard on yourself. You and Lawrence are capable of prayerfully and wisely making decisions without the judgment of others. Our wedding verse says it well "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. 3 vs 5&6
    You and Lawrence and Ethan are on the right path, God will direct you. :)
    love always ,your wordy freind Melinda

  7. Anonymous9:48 PM

    "And I beg to differ with Ian in that you may be withholding your gifts that are meant to be shared with the body of Christ. I have found that it is IN the world that your Christian gifts are needed to be shared rather than insulated inside the safety and familiarity of your church...so that when you are approached, or find an opportunity, you may share the Grace of God with people who are also unchurched."

    1 Corinthians 12....Paul would seem to disagree with your assessment. Gifts are for the body....which doesn't negate using them outside the church...but they were given for the body.

  8. LOL - I JUST sent you an email Miss Becks, then decided to check in on you here. You know, the thing I have always loved about you is your HONESTY and that you really just share your heart.

    This IS so frustrating. Should you come to our church its SO SMALL there are not the bodies to even run a nursery. If it were to happen it would be ME. And me has done it so often that me does not get to sit and "soak" either. And the glaring thing - I've seen this happen and I think its so cruel.

    I won't even try to compose anything of comfort - there is no easy solution to this. THANK YOU for posting, it gives us lots to chew on. I will call you in the next day or two.


  9. I forgot to tell you that I agree with your comment on my blog. I'm afraid to go DOWN the hill---but braver going UP the hill. It's nice to know that someone else is freaked out too. Worrying about coming DOWN later can ruin a whole ride. But I usually worry for nothing and it's easier than I thought. Except one steep hill--I made Mozart ride it down! I finally got my post up!