No, I’m not telling you to stop attending church.
You must do what you believe God wants you to do.
If you Stop Attending Church
But if you stop attending church so that you can be the church, it may be the best thing that ever happens to you in your life with Jesus and your evangelistic endeavors.
When I stopped attending church, the number of spiritual conversations I had with people skyrocketed. Previously, when I was a pastor and a regular church attender, I rarely had spiritual conversations with people who were not already in a church.
But after I stopped attending church, and started trying to follow Jesus into the world, the number of conversations I had with people who don’t go to church became a nearly daily occurrence. Now, as I go about my day, run errands, and so on, I have been shocked at how Jesus just seems to insert himself into conversations.
Previously, I used to try to figure out how to “change the subject” from weather and politics to the Bible and Jesus. It was always awkward and unnatural. Now, I sometimes find myself talking about following Jesus outside of “the church” to someone, and I think to myself, “How in the world did we end up here?”
I don’t really know how to explain it.
Yes, I am praying for opportunities to talk with people, and our girls are real outspoken about Jesus, and my wife and I are always carrying around Christian books, so maybe those spark the conversations. But we have always done these things. What changed?
Only one thing. I stopped “going to church” so I could be the church. It’s not always an either-or, but it’s what we did.
People Want to Know why You Stopped Attending Church
When people find out I’m trying to follow Jesus but I don’t “attend church” they are intrigued. They often want to find out more, and the conversation turns to subjects of following Jesus, questions about God, and other spiritual matters.
I make it a point to say that I have not stopped attending church because I hate the church or am running from God. No, I am more involved now with church than ever before. I am trying to follow Jesus in ways that show love to others than ever before. The time and energy I used to devote to attending church I now seek to use in being the church among others.
This sort of conversation usually leads to another conversation, and another, until eventually, we have a relationship, and we hang out, eat lunch together, help each other with work around the yard or house, and so on.
So for me, stopping attending church seems to be a good “conversation starter” with lots of other people who do not go to church.
Have you had experiences like this, where God seems to work in and through your life once you have started “being the church” rather than just “attending church”?
(Note: In the past few years, I have met a few people who were “sent out” by their church as missionaries with this sort of task. They work secular jobs, and just meet regularly with people for discussions. They made it clear to their church that they will not be attending church and will not be trying to convince the people they meet with to attend church. The sending church agrees to this, and supports them in prayer… and sometimes financially. That is awesome!)