Sunday is coming, and millions of people all over the world will find themselves in local churches; participating in worship services, Bible studies, and age-based ministries, and finding great encouragement and community and joy there.
You might well be one of those people.
But you might not.
For all sorts of reasons; either because you’ve been excluded or damaged or made to feel unwelcome, or because your faith is shaken or your pain is too great or your heart is too weary, you might find yourself outside the walls of a church.
It’s okay, God is there too—I promise you.
Most of us have grown up believing that the Church was a building, and that you went to worship as a weekly activity. Faith and life and spiritual growth were all about getting to that building, because that building was where your encountered God.
That is only partially true.
But the greater, far more glorious truth dear friend, is that you are the Church; that God is all around and ever-present and within you. And so wherever you find yourself this morning, that ground is holy. When your mind and heart are oriented toward the things of God, your very life is an act of worship.
You may be snuggled in your bed with your family and dog, telling stories and giggling away the morning.
You may be jogging with your best friend through the wooded paths just coming to life in the early morning sun.
You may be driving through the empty back roads with the roof open, blasting the 80’s metal that reminds you of when you had hair for the breeze to blow through.
You might be having breakfast with friends giving thanks for life and family and the day.
You might be in the garden, your knees pressed to the damp soil, smelling the leaves just popping up through the ground.
These places are all sacred.
They are waiting sanctuaries for God to be seen and heard and experienced.
They are common cathedrals, fully saturated with the presence of the Divine.
Church-less Sundays can bring a great deal of guilt, especially if you grew up in organized religion. When you find your spiritual life being defined outside of the local church, you can tend to feel like you’re doing it wrong, or that the experience is somehow counterfeit—less spiritual. You either hear an alarm go of in your own head, or from well-meaning church friends or from pushy pastors that you need to get back to church.
Well, you may and you may not.
You may just need to stay right where you are.
For many people, because of the struggles we mentioned above, organized religion is the very barrier they need to overcome to get closer proximity to Jesus. It is the thing that most hinders their pursuit of peace. It actually creates unrest within them. And in this way, for those people, “church” is the wrong answer to the question of “How do I grow spiritually?”
If you can’t or won’t find your way into a brick and mortar building this Sunday, be encouraged. You can fully love God without going to a church. Obviously community is one of the ways we blossom. As we navigate relationships, as we love and seek love, as we give and receive compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness—we grow in ways we never would otherwise. There is value in sharing life with other people who are seeking to be the best version of themselves. But these opportunities are not confined to the church building, waiting for you to show up and receive them there.
God is always close by and easily accessible. Divinity often comes disguised as ordinary days, uneventful moments, and typical conversations: making breakfast with your kids, playing with your dog, getting a rare quiet pause with your teenager, reading a book you love, sleeping in because you’re completely exhausted, catching up with an old friend over coffee. These can all be rich, beautiful, faith-affirming experiences that do more for your soul than an hour worship service ever could.
Everything God has for you is available to you right where you are; in the woods, in bed, around your table, at the game, having coffee with your spouse, pruning the flowers, driving down the Interstate.
These can be the places you fully commune with God and with God’s people; where you reflect and pray and learn and study and mediate and feel gratitude and seek guidance. Anything we do that is intentionally done with an awareness of God and others—that is Church because we are the Church.
There is nowhere in Scripture where Jesus commands us to go to a building called “Church”. It was always about sharing life with people. All that existed in the New Testament were house churches where people were already living together in deep, relational community. The idea that we need to travel to sit in a space with strangers and consume religious entertainment is not at all Biblical. So while it may be helpful (and to many it is), it is not necessary. If people try to make you feel guilty for not attending a church building, know that they have missed the point, not you.
There may be a time in the near future when you once again find your home in a local church community. But you might also never get back there again. And either way, your faith can be rich and real and fully life-giving.
Christianity isn’t a building or an hour-long Sunday morning activity. It’s you living with a desire to reflect Jesus.
Wherever you find yourself this Sunday, do this as best you can. God is with you.
Whether inside or outside the church building,
whether in your Sunday best or in ragged pajamas—be encouraged.
For further reading: Here’s why the Bible doesn’t call any building “The Church.”