Pause and Restart: 6 Tips to Start Going to Church Again
- Jessica Brodie Award-winning Christian Novelist and Journalist
- 2022 9 Jun
Have you stopped attending church in person and are finding it really difficult to get back into a regular routine of going again?
When COVID-19 forced our church to start meeting online, I was excited we had a new way to worship amidst a pandemic. And I have to admit – I loved doing church in my pajamas, with no makeup on while sipping coffee on the couch.
After a while, though, I started to feel disconnected. I tried going back, but one of my teens would be tired, so we’d skip in-person and “just do online,” or someone had the sniffles so online worship seemed safer. Eventually, we were barely attending in-person, but attending online no longer felt meaningful for our family. It was time to face the truth: We’d hit pause and needed a church restart.
So that’s exactly what we did.
If you, too, have found you stopped going to church with the pandemic or some other reason and can’t seem to get started again, I offer a few tips to reignite your passion for going to church.
Here are six ways to start going to church again when you’ve hit “pause.”
Do We Need to Go to Church?
First, a question: Do we need to go to church? And if so, why?
The Bible tells us yes, we should go to church. While it is entirely possible to be a Christian and follow the ways of Jesus without setting foot in church or ever gathering with other believers, it’s a lonely and difficult road to walk.
In his letter to the early church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul compared the church to a body with Jesus as the head. For the body to work properly, it must do its part and work together, for, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16).
Attending church encourages us, and helps us encourage each other. As it says in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
It also helps us know how to love each other well and help each other.
As Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
It’s good to go to church, to set aside a sabbath and worship the Lord, to gather with other believers so the Holy Spirit can move through the body of Christ and ignite the world through us.
The early church is lifted up in Acts 2:42-47 as an example of the good way the Spirit worked through the fellowship of the believers, and this is a positive and important thing.
1. Put It on Your Calendar
One great way to make yourself go to church is to put it on your calendar, whether it’s on your smartphone or a printed one hanging on your wall. Treat it like any other appointment. Dress like it matters, show up on time, be engaged, and stay the whole time. Make it important; make it a priority.
2. Change up the Time
If your church offers multiple times of worship, go to a different service, whether an early service or a late service. Maybe you’ve always been an 11 a.m. worshipper, but going to a 9 a.m. service allows you the opportunity to go to lunch after, or enjoy a coffee with the pastor, or attend a Sunday school class.
3. Make a Day of It
Speaking of lunch, don’t just go to church and be done. Go to church and then continue on with a special day.
Exodus 20:8-11 urges the Israelites, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
This doesn’t just apply to God’s people in the Old Testament; a sabbath is important today, as well. Go to lunch after church, or pack a picnic and go to the park if money is tight. Maybe stroll through a public setting and try to live out the message you received from that morning’s service. Make a day of it, a special time set aside for you and God and other loved ones.
4. Try a Wardrobe Makeover
Maybe you’ve always dressed up for church because that’s how you were raised. Perhaps now might be a time to consider a different style of clothing. If your church is comfortable with a more casual style, try that and see how it feels. Or try a color you don’t typically wear on a daily basis and that can be your “special church color” that you wear to worship.
Or if you have always worn casual clothing to church, try the opposite. Dress up fully. Shine your shoes and style your hair extra-fancy. Something different can reinvigorate you.
5. Get to Work
Give yourself a job at church. Commit to some sort of role at church and you’ll find it will help get you there. Sign up to be an usher, a greeter, or someone who works with children. Or maybe give yourself a secret job: your “job” is to offer a genuine smile to everyone you make eye contact with, or to say something kind to four people.
6. Consider a Different Denomination
Perhaps it’s not going to church that’s grown stagnant, but God is calling you to try a different community of faith. A common saying is that there will be no denominations in heaven — God’s people are God’s people.
With this in mind, feel free to try another Christian church. If you attend a specific Protestant denomination, try another denomination, or try a non-denominational church. Or just visit a few other churches in the community to get an understanding of different worship styles. It’s all the same religion; only the manner of practice might be a little different. Some churches offer communion, while others don’t. Some sing traditional hymns, while others do all contemporary Christian music.
Shaking up your routine and trying something new might help you understand the message in a new way or open a new door for worship that you haven’t yet experienced.
Maybe you’ve tried all this and still don’t feel enthusiastic about attending church. That’s OK — because worshipping God doesn’t need to have anything to do with how we feel. Christianity is not a feeling, rather, it’s a way, a belief, a lifeline. It’s based on reason and truth, the truth of God’s Holy Word.
So have faith despite feelings, stand firm on the truth despite any doubts, and know that God is with you. Even if you feel distant or disengaged, God isn’t distant or disengaged from you. God is with us always, loves us always, and wants us in His family.
Do you want to be in God’s family, too? All are welcome who believe.
More from this author
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4 Reasons Even the Most Rambunctious Children Belong in Church
6 Prayers for When You Are Fighting Anxiety
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Leo Malsam
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.