This is part two in the “Why I Go To Church” series. You can read the first post here. These articles are my response to a reader who reached out with some honest questions about the importance of church in a believer’s life. I’m breaking his original email down into parts, responding to the various points.
Traci, I enjoyed the Lectio Divina post I just read. I was raised Catholic and much like you, felt that the church I went to was somehow superior. I went to a parochial school and we studied in school as well as in church. At some point in my adolescence, I strayed from church as a regular activity, as time passed I stopped going altogether…
I am an introvert- BIG TIME- I do fine with small groups I know, but any function I attend with lots of people makes me uncomfortable. I remember coming to the Mt. Olive Church when I was young and even then feeling like that suited me a whole lot better, but I couldn't place why.
Let me get to the point- I did not mean to ramble and I got totally off subject- I am wondering, do I need to go to church?
Admittedly, I am not a BIG TIME introvert (I am only a slight introvert). I see your type in the church though. Actually, one similar to you sits in her regular spot every Wednesday night in my Bible study. She has an assigned seat on Sunday mornings too - two rows from the front, about four seats from the aisle.
Like you, she grew up Catholic. Most of what she learned about religion, she’s had to undo in order to fall completely in love with Jesus. It’s a familiar story. No one ever explained to her why her church worshiped the way they did. She didn’t know the meaning behind the prayers, the postures of worship or the Communion she would take. When she grew old enough to decide for herself if she would continue doing these things, she opted not to do them. At that point, they carried little significance to her. Like you, she stopped going to church altogether.
Later in life, when she came back to Jesus, she was very broken. She needed him and he was ready to embrace her. There’s a hunger for Christ in her that I admire. Frankly, she’s become one of my favorite people.
She’s not the life of the party, if you will, talking all the time and boldly stating her opinions. Being an introvert and a new believer, often she’ll sit quietly through most of class. However, I’ve learned to sit forward on the edge of my seat when she does speak up, because her faith walk has not been an easy one and God continues to deliver her from some hard circumstances. She probably wouldn’t win a round of Bible trivia, but I count her as one of the wisest women I know.
What I’m trying to say is the church needs you, even though it makes you uncomfortable. Sometimes a lot of us talk too loud and too much. We need the quiet voices tucked away in the corner, observing, to tell us what you see! We must create an environment, in small groups or in our larger congregations, where we listen to what you have to say. We’re the ones missing out if we don’t do that.
For any readers who don’t know, the Mt. Olive Church you referenced is a small Methodist church in rural Missouri (I wrote about it here). I found it so interesting you said you’d often felt more comfortable there. It’s a lot different from the Catholic masses you attended in town. Please explore this realization some more. Was it the simple structure of the place that drew you? Or a smaller crowd? Did the less formal worship service relax your spirit? For me, I’m drawn to the Methodist church because they serve up the best Communion bread. That and their heart for service.
Now, I know Mt. Olive has closed her doors; but if it’s a smaller, Protestant church that makes you feel at home, I’d encourage you to pursue that. Perhaps, once you’ve done some business with God, you’ll find him again in Catholicism and its elaborate pomp and circumstance. That’s certainly fine too. Maybe a good start is a house church with some of the close friends you feel most comfortable with, although I don’t think that will satisfy your need for fellowship too long. We need the diversity found in our churches. The key is to seek Him and find Him. He is worthy.