When I was growing up, going to church on Sundays with my mom was mandatory unless you were deathly ill. No getting out of it. Sunday was go-to-church day.
Going to Church as a Kid
I grew up in a Baptist church – Sunday school on Sunday mornings, worship on Sunday evenings, Tuesday was “visitation day,” Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting and Friday night AWANA. I was at church almost every day of the week when I was young.
When I turned 15, I started giving my mom a hard time about going, especially since my dad only went on special occasions like Easter and Mother’s Day. If he wasn’t going every Sunday, why did I have to? That was an issue mom couldn’t really argue with, so she let me have my way.
I also went to a private Christian school until I was 15, so right about the time I stopped going to church regularly, I also convinced my parents to save their money and transfer me to the local public school so I could go to school with my neighborhood friends.
Back to Church with Mom
It wasn’t long after that, less than a year in fact, that I became a very young wife and mother. When that didn’t work out and I moved back home, I started going with my mother again – to a new church this time. And at 21 years old, I was saved and baptized there.
Looking back, about the only type of outreach this church did was summer vacation Bible school and I helped with that one summer. I was remarried at the time, but like my dad, my husband only went with me on special occasions too.
Eventually, I stopped going completely and ventured out on my own after marriage number two ended.
Strayed and Walked Away
Over the next couple of decades or so, I visited different churches here and there but never found one that “fit.” They had nothing to keep me coming back. Eventually it seemed more like a chore than something I enjoyed doing.
Like Crowder’s song says, I “strayed and walked away,” unspeakable things I’ve done for years and years – a son out of wedlock, a third marriage and divorce, countless relationships that turned bad quickly and the list goes on; all because I’d stopped attending church regularly, I’d stopped growing in my Christian faith and trusting God.
Fast-forward many, many years, married again to the most wonderful Christian man who agreed that we should find a church and start going again. But where? We agreed not to go any religion-based church but find a non-denominational Christian church.
Tragedy Leads Me to a New Church Home
We could actually see one from our house so we tried that one. That only lasted for about six months and we stopped going there. Again, it wasn’t the right fit. There was something missing, like all the other churches I’d been to in my life.
We hadn’t been to church for about three years when on January 1, 2017 we got the call that my little brother was in a motorcycle accident and on life support. He was not going to make it. I was nothing less than completely and utterly devastated!
My little brother was my rock, my support, my best friend. Both of our parents were deceased so aside from our children and spouses, we only had each other in our immediate family. We did so much together and we could always rely on each other in emergencies.
One thing we’d made a promise to each other to do when our mother died was never to spend Thanksgiving apart. We spent Thanksgiving together every year for 20 years, no matter what else was going on.
So as the year progressed and it got closer to both my little brother’s November birthday and then Thanksgiving, I grew more and more despondent.
I Needed Church-I Needed God
Most of 2017 is a complete blur. I stopped blogging, stopped writing; I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything and I cried All. The. Time. I finally decided to go to grief counseling and made my first appointment. I didn’t walk out feeling any better so I made one more appointment, and didn’t feel any better after that one either.
Then one evening I was on the phone with my daughter and I mentioned that I felt the only thing that was going to help was to get back to church again.
There was only one other church that seemed interesting, but we’d been advised against it by a minister associate we met at the memorial service of my grandson’s future mother-in-law when she passed. So that church was out.
My daughter told me about Morgantown Community Church, the church that her boss went to and how much they loved it because it wasn’t like any other church. So we decided to try it.
We were warmly welcomed by many people that we’d never met before. The church is almost an hour from our home, but that didn’t matter. It just felt right from the first minute we walked in.
The service that morning was about dealing with grief and loss! God had His hand in that, I’m sure, because that was just what I needed! I cried throughout the entire service but at the same time I literally felt an overwhelming peace fall all around me, like the Lord was putting His arms around me and calling me back to Him.
The next day, Monday, I canceled my next appointment with the grief counselor. God led me back to where I needed to be and we’ve been going regularly now for almost two months. We even jumped in with both feet to become partners at the church and regularly volunteer at various events.
Knowing You’re in the Right Church
We’ve had many “God Winks” in the months following that first Sunday that further solidified our belief that we had found a church home.
Is going to church important and something you should be doing? Is it for everyone? I believe it is – when you find the right church; the one that the Lord leads you to.
If you get “God Winks” when you visit or within the following months after you start going or when you actually look forward to Sunday Worship and not feel it’s a chore or something that you “have to do,” but rather something you WANT to do, then you know you’ve found your home church too.
If you stopped going to church and went back, what inspired you? Share your thoughts and comments below!