Church. Is it on your calendar?

going to church

daily agendaDo you keep a daily calendar? An agenda of upcoming events? Maybe you use Google Calendar or have an app to keep track of your schedule. I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years, but my favorite is a good old fashioned paper calendar. I like the ones that include monthly and weekly grids so I can have an at-a-glance option plus a space for more details. If things are super duper important and I’m afraid I’ll forget, I will schedule a reminder with my two assistants: Siri and Alexa.

Why all this calendar talk? Because if something doesn’t get into my calendar, it doesn’t get done. You? I imagine it is hard for most folks to keep track of daily tasks and take advantage of occasional opportunities without some kind of digital or physical record. That’s why I’ve already got events that are still months away marked on my calendar. By making a note of these dates, I show that these are priorities for me.

Except, hold on. I do not have “Worship” on my calendar every Sunday and it is certainly among the most important activities of my week. The thing is, though, I don’t have to remember to go to church. (I don’t have to remember to brush my teeth either.) I just do it. It’s part of my routine.

There was only one time in my life when I fell out of the habit of going to church: the years I was an undergraduate student at Campbell University (August 1983-December 1986). That was a choice I made because when I was in high school, I experienced significant church-induced pain and heartbreak; when I was out on my own, I chose to skip church most of the time. Was it hard to reestablish the habit of going to church? You better believe it! And I had the added motivator of living with my pastor all summer long.

If you are no longer–or never have been–in the habit of going to church, beating yourself up about it is not going to get you back through the door. Really. Forgive yourself and stop the shame game. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t think you should rejoin the congregation. I think church attendance is one of the best investments you can make in your own spiritual formation and in your relationship with God and humanity. Your church is better when you are with them, and I believe that if you commit to your community of faith, you will benefit.

So, if you’re out of the habit of regular church attendance, consider changing your self-talk.

  • “Self, you keep saying you’ll go back, but you always oversleep,” becomes “Here’s another opportunity to attend church this week Self! Start planning on being there.”
  • “Don’t make promises you know you won’t keep,” becomes “Commit to attending! I believe in you Self!”
  • “You’ve been gone so long, Self, it will be embarrassing to return,” becomes “When I go this week Self, there will no longer be a gap. That’s just silly.”

Look, there are lots of reasons people fall out of the habit of weekly church attendance. Whatever your situation is, you get no pressure and no guilt from me! I can tell you that you are always welcome at Ecclesia and we’ll always be glad you are with us.

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.