Church or Chore

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Your alarm goes off on Sunday morning and, let’s be honest, you don’t want to get out of bed. Sunday mornings aren’t always picture-perfect. Sometimes it involves an act of the will to get up, get dressed, grab your Bible, and head to God’s house. 

I’m not sure what emotions surface when you consider your church home, but have you ever struggled to connect—with the style of worship, with the people there, or even with God? Has church become a chore?

This isn’t an attempt to point fingers at what needs to be different in our church contexts. After all, every church has its flaws—we’re not in Heaven, yet. No matter how you feel, or what your church environment looks like, you are given an opportunity to corporately worship there. The question is, are you? Are you fully able to worship God, or are you wrestling with emotions that bog down your spirit of worship?

Let’s address some raw emotions that may be going through your mind on Sundays, especially.

“I’M BORED. NONE OF THIS RELATES TO ME.”

Ever read Psalm 84:10? “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (NIV). Really?! Did the Psalmist ever get bored of worshipping? What did those courts have that ours don’t, and how can I find God’s house better than any other place to be?

Let’s backtrack to verse 1 for some answers—“How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!” (NIV). The Psalmist presents the courts of God as not only a building, but as a meeting place. God dwells there, and that’s why there’s no better place to be.

You might agree with me, but still honestly struggle to experience the presence and dwelling of God in the “courts” where you gather. So, what do you do?

  1. Claim it. You may feel like nothing relates to you, but God does. He’s not an old, bearded man in the clouds; He is Emmanuel—God with us. He’s timeless, relevant, and knows exactly what you need and when you need it. As you sit in church, open your Bible and read Hebrews 13:8.
    Write the verse out, whisper it in your heart, claim it, pray it.
  2. Lay aside any judgment on how things should or should not happen in church. When a critical thought pierces your heart, pray “God, You’re here. Help me to see You, rather than my judgements.” Read Psalm 118:8.
  3. If you’re bored, start looking for Jesus. He’s there.
  • Read Matthew 18:20. It’s truth.
  • When songs are sung, cling to the lyrics that describe God. Thank God for how He reveals His character to you.
  • Be quiet and tune out distractions. Meditate on God’s Word during the Scripture reading or sermon by underlining words that jump out to you.
  • Say “Amen” to things said in the service that speak to the character of God.
  • Expect God to meet with you.

It’s easy to blame others for our boredom or inability to relate—it’s more difficult to hold ourselves accountable. Rather than waste an opportunity to worship God—let’s snatch it!

“MY PERSONAL LIFE IS A MESS. THE LAST THING I FEEL LIKE DOIN IS WORSHIPPING GOD.”

If you feel like your life’s a mess, read Job 1. Job had the worst day anyone could imagine! Within moments, all of Job’s animals were stolen, his farmhands killed, a fire burned Job’s sheep and shepherds, raiders stole his camels and killed his servants, and worst still, all of Job’s children were killed when their house collapsed on them. I cannot imagine what Job felt in that moment of personal devastation. Yet Job 1:20 astoundingly records the first two things Job did—“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.” The first thing Job did was grieve, and then he chose to worship God!

This verse tells us two vital things about worship:

  1. Don’t leave your emotions at the door. Job grieved. He expressed his emotion in the presence of God. Worship isn’t void of our emotions. We can laugh, cry, or even be pensive in thought as we worship Him. Read these verses which express both raw emotion followed by heartfelt worship: Psalm 3:1-6, Psalm 35:17-18, Psalm 42:9-11.
  2. Worship is not dependent on how you feel. Job chose to worship God despite how he felt. You don’t have to feel good to worship—actually you could feel kind of crabby, but still choose to worship. Why? Because worship is not about us. Worship is our response to the worth of God, not our response to our feelings!

Going through a tough time and struggling to worship in church? Here are some practical tips:

  • Before you walk into your church building, describe how you’re feeling to God. Be honest. “I feel _______ , but I’m choosing to worship You, God.” Then walk in it. Read 1 Chronicles 16:23-31.
  • Make a list of the characteristics of God during your church service. Draw these attributes from the Scripture reading, lyrics sung, and sermon preached.
  • Read lyrics from The Song Book of The Salvation Army. Reflect on the amount of reasons to worship God in each song.
  • Whatever Scripture is read, underline the words that describe the goodness of God. Focus on those attributes. Whisper prayers of praise to Him. Read Psalm 91 to get started.

There are so many ideas to help us worship, but above all, worship really has to do with our heart. Paul and Silas prayed and sang in chains as they worshipped (Acts 16:24-26); an unnamed woman wept and washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and perfume (Luke 7:38); David danced as he worshipped, wearing a priestly garment (2 Samuel 6:14); and a widow gave two mites out of her poverty as worship to God (Luke 21:1-4). In each of these expressions, the worshipper responded to God’s worth, not to his or her own imprisonment, poverty, or difficulty.

Yes, it may feel like a chore to get out of bed on a Sunday morning, but could you still choose worship? Could you choose worship that isn’t dependent on feelings, people, surroundings, or ambiance? Could the true heart of worship consume your heart—a passionate, authentic, contagious love for God that longs to respond to His worth?

I’m not sure about you, but I’m setting my alarm for Sunday morning. It’s not always easy, but I choose worship.

—Captain Pamela Maynor, Editor of Young Salvationist