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Ever since Isaac was born, going to church has turned into a challenge of epic proportions. I feel like one of those contestants on the show Double Dare. Remember that show? I may not have to crawl through pits of slime or scale enormous walls while pies are being launched at my face, but the obstacles are just as great!

Let’s start with the fact that mornings in general are just plain hard. Lately, some time around 4:00 or 5:00 am, I’ve started blacking out. Around that hour, the fatigue from waking up and feeding throughout the night catches up with me, and I am no longer conscious of anything. I don’t hear Isaac cry, I don’t hear Ike pick him up and take him into another room. Nothing. Instead, I wake up around 7:00 or 8:00, and wonder what happened.

Adding church to that mix gets tricky.

Then there’s getting out the door. Even though we’ve only added one person to our family, we now have a gazillion little odds and ends that we need to take with us whenever we leave the house–diaper bag, extra change of clothes, bottled milk so I can feed him during the service, extra pacifiers in case one falls on the floor, Mickey Mouse stuffed animal because Isaac is obsessed with him, and the list goes on.

On top of it all, we now live about 30 minutes from our church, which adds an extra hour of driving to the morning. It might not be that big of a deal if Isaac slept well in the car, but he doesn’t. In fact, he doesn’t sleep well during the service either, so the rest of our day is often rocky as a result.

With all of this craziness, I have seriously considered not going to church until Isaac is old enough to go to the nursery. Or at the very least, I’ve considered alternating Sundays with Ike so that one of us can go worship in peace while the other stays at home with Isaac. Because, let’s be honest, neither one of us is very focused during the service. Between feeding and burping Isaac, rocking him when he’s sleepy, or taking him out of the service when he needs to be changed, I don’t get a whole lot of worshiping done. Why bother?

That was my thought process this past weekend as I looked ahead to the gauntlet before us. I found myself actually dreading the prospect of going. I really did not want to go to church.

Even so, we went. And I’m glad we did.

Let me tell you why.

Christian teachers and leaders often warn against the consumerism that characterizes much of church attendance today. We are so prone to choose a church based on music preference or the friendliness of the greeters. Today, it’s all about what I get out of the service.

This mentality is indeed a problem. Because of this widespread thinking I have tried to resist it in myself. When my church fails to satisfy my music preferences or standards for preaching, I remind myself of my church’s strengths and the reasons God led me to my church.

Despite my best efforts I am not perfect in this area, and having a baby has accentuated my consumerist tendencies even more. Now, I can’t help but think of church as a major inconvenience. It is hard to go to church. It’s a commitment. And as much as I put into getting there, I don’t get a whole lot in return.

The last couple months have therefore pressed me to consider why I go to church in the first place. Is the ultimate purpose to hear a great sermon? To get a spiritual pick-me-up? To sing my favorite songs? I think that, on some level, I had to answer yes to all of those questions. Because once they were taken away, I briefly thought about skipping.

While hearing the truth preached from the pulpit and singing beautiful songs to the Lord are both wonderful aspects of our sabbath worship, this new season of my life has also reminded me that the Sunday morning service is more than those things.

It is gathering with the Body of Christ to honor the Day of the Lord.

It is welcoming my son into his church family.

It is filling my sons eyes and ears with the sights and sounds of Christian worship.

It is that moment when I bounce my son to the rhythm of the music and sing to him, “Oh, how he loves YOU so!”

It is honoring Scripture’s exhortation to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25).

It is exercising my freedom to worship corporately, when so many of my Christian brothers and sisters cannot.

Before Isaac came along, my worship was definitely me-centered. Now, his presence is wresting my focus off of myself and placing it on God, and others. I am reminded that Sunday morning worship is not about putting on my nice neat outfit, having a “meaningful experience,” and then going back home. Worship doesn’t always have to be tidy, or quiet, or organized. Sunday morning is about the entire Body of Christ coming together to honor and praise our Savior. In the sanctuary of God, all are welcome and even expected. From the tiny babies to the barely-keeping-it-together moms; from the prim and proper to the poor and dirty; from the church regulars to the first-timers; from the committed faithful to the broken and seeking–together, we cast a vision of our future heavenly worship, when all are gathered in praise to Him.

We are a community defined by more than our Sunday morning service, to be sure. “Church” is not just a meeting, but a people united by faith in Christ, living out that faith together, every day. However, on Sunday morning (or Saturday night, or whenever you worship with your community) God invites you to come as you are and join your church family in worship. When it comes to the role of the local church in the life of the Christian believer, the important thing is not so much the experience. The important thing is that you come.


  • Amy Simpson says:

    Great thoughts, Sharon. And there are many other parents who have been there with you. I’m glad your thoughts led you where they did. As Isaac gets older, you will see this approach to church begin to show itself in his life as well, and you’ll be glad you established this discipline now.

    And I promise it will get easier!

  • Julie says:

    I remember being in this stage of motherhood and wanting to not attend church or fellowship with others. Yet, in the long run, I was truly blessed during my times of weakness and so were my children. Thank you for being so vulnerable about your feelings.

  • Amen – times two!!! I feel you on this!! We’re just now at a point where the girls can be around the public, and all of the time, energy, and stress going into getting them there, keeping them quiet, and attempting to listen is overwhelming! But still you’re right, we must continue to be a part of the body. It’s a battle, for sure, and one we must fight! Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Margaret says:

    this made me laugh–I don’t have kids, but the added craziness would make anyone consider not going!

  • Kristel says:

    I’m so glad I read this!
    My son is now 15 months old and I’m finding it more difficult NOW to go to church than before. I guess when he was so little it wasn’t a big deal because our church was only 5 minutes away and he napped well in his car seat and nursing him while sitting in the back of the room wasn’t such a big deal for me. But now we live about half an hour away, he HATES the nursery, he is super active and won’t sit still in the service, it interferes with his nap time. Ugh. Oh, I’m also pregnant and battling fatigue, back aches, etc. There are days when my husband has to work or is playing in the service which means I have to go by myself with my son and I can’t even imagine. I have skipped church more in the past few months than ever before and I haven’t felt great about it. But reading this has given me a new perspective and I will definitely make more of an effort from now on. Thanks!

  • Lesley says:

    Great conclusions, Sharon. I can really relate to your sentiments, and yet also came to a similar place of embracing this short season of chaotic church attendance. I think a lot of women will find encouragement in your honesty.

  • Courtney says:

    Definitely have felt that, especially getting out the door by myself since Spence has to be there earlier. There will come a time when it does get easier. Good word on how God is using Isaac to show you your sin. Trust me, He will use your kid(s) in a way like no other to humble and teach you šŸ™‚

  • Ilona says:

    Very well said!

    Glancing back during my days with babies, I felt the same. And like you, I rose repeatedly to the occasion because I love being with the community of believers, worshipping and growing in faith together, and being the “one another” to my neighbor.

    However, I confess, every now and then when it simply was too overwhelming, I did stay home (think three kids four and under with two in diapers at the same time!). During the nearly three years I did not get a full night’s sleep, I took an occasional Sunday off.

    But only a few. People still expect the pastor’s wife (and later the missionary) to be present always, babies or not.

  • Amy Andrews says:

    As a mom two girls, 2 and 4, and a full-time minister, I cannot agree more! Sunday mornings are crazy to say the least, and there are many (ok, most!) Sunday mornings when I stand at the pulpit to pray and realize that moment is the first time I have taken a deep breath, much less readied myself for worship. But you are so right by saying it is not about us! And I am amazed at how much my kids pick up during worship, even when you think they have no clue what is going on, they are observing and learning what a lifestyle of worship looks like!

  • Tim says:

    Sharon, you remind me of when our kids were young. This stage passes, but it doesn’t always seem to pass quickly enough!

    Your questions about why we go to church were good ones. Is it to hear a great sermon or sing along with wonderful music? If that the case, then the age of the internet means we never need leave home because we have access to more sermons and music than any generation in history. I think you conclusions echo those of the writer of Hebrews about gathering together. We do it for us and those around us (including our infant children), all in order to stay focused on and glorify God.


  • All you have to do is read a couple of articles about the persecuted church and it’ll put everything in perspective šŸ™‚ seriously, though, I do understand what you are going through. I have three young children. The church I used to attend was very small, so I ended up in the nursery taking care of my kids and two more many Sundays a month – needless to say, I was incredibly cranky and had a terrible attitude about going to church. Why should I go to church to watch my kids? Might as well stay home..and the thoughts went on and on.

    Recently, though, I’ve been reading about both the persecuted church and also the incredibly consumerist what-can-i-get-out-of-it church in America. It’s true. The church in America has completely lost focus as to what it is to attend a worship service. We need to go to church because the Lord commands it. Like you said, whether we like the music or not or the preaching stirs us or not, we must be faithful.

    So hang in there! If you put things in perspective, you’ll persevere šŸ™‚

    “Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.” A.W. Tozer

  • We haven’t officially met yet, but I’ve seen you at women’s events at church and a friend said, “You two would like each other!” šŸ™‚ This may sound a little nutty (now you’ll get a glimpse into how my brain works), but I was on worship team Sunday and happened to look up at one point and see you in the rear of the auditorium holding your little one. For a split second in the midst of the song, I was reminded of that stage of life–my son is three. I remember how tiny and light he felt in my arms and how exhausted I felt. I also remember that a couple of the women I met in the Mother’s Room (he was nursing through service) were the first moms I met at church and we still chat with each other. My praise in that moment on stage had an extra, private layer of gratefulness when I saw you with Isaac. God is honored by your diligence and commitment to Him! Thanks for sharing.

    • Sharon says:

      Aw thank you so much, Kristen! I’ve heard about you too, and I think I’ve seen you at events also. We will definitely have to meet in person!! Thanks for sharing your words of encouragement!

  • Cliff says:

    I really needed to hear this…er, read it. Thanks.

  • sliao says:

    I know this isn’t entirely related, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on what, then, would be a good reason to stop going to a church and go to another one instead? This is mainly asking about the consumerism mentality vs. not staying complacent/leaving.

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