I'm not attending church anymore.
In American culture, I think we've become a little too accustomed to "attending church." Slip in the back pew, listen to the service, try not to get too convicted, leave. At least, I know I've done that for the past eighteen-and-a-half years.
Especially in the past couple years, I've been that really irresponsible teenager that gets to church late, sits in the back, and leaves ASAP. I would purposely avoid people who tried to talk to me about the sermon afterward, because the entire time, I was either (a) so tired that it was all I could do to stay awake and didn't pay any attention, (b) staring at the clock and counting how many minutes I had until the sermon was over and didn't listen to the pastor at all, or (c) carrying on a whisper-conversation with my friends in the back of church.
At home, my parents would try to talk me into going to more weekly church events, but I'd always roll my eyes and say that there wasn't really a point; church wasn't doing anything for me, anyways.
As if church is somehow all about me.
A month and a half ago, I realized something. Something that might seem really obvious to you, but it didn't occur to me, until recently. Part of the reason I wasn't getting anything out of church was because I wasn't investing anything in it. I claimed I didn't know that many people - well, whose fault was it that I wasn't talking to anyone?! I didn't "get anything out of the sermons" - well, was I listening in the first place?
And it hit me. Church needs to stop being something I attend. My church is part of the body of Christ. I need to start being a part of the church. Church is something we are, not a building we go to once a week.
Lately, I've been taking pains to make sure I get up early enough to arrive at the church building on time. I sit close to the front of the church, making sure that I actually tune into what the pastor's saying, instead of spending the whole time talking. I hang out for awhile after church and actively engage in building relationships with lots of different people. The other day, I met with the main pastor (our church has a few) and got to know him, because it's a shame that I hardly even know the man shepherding our church! I pray for the people in this small fraction of the Body of Christ and have realized that my role in the church can be to encourage and lift up those around me.
By serving the church and being an active part of it...I'm discovering that it's benefiting me, something I hadn't been expecting.
So you see, I don't "attend" church anymore. I'm a part of it.