I’m Not Going To Church Anymore

March 7, 2011 — 58 Comments

That’s right. That was no typo. I’m not going to church.

Why?

You might think that’s a selfish thing to do. And actually, that’s it exactly- selfishness. Because that’s what church can become.

Think about it: why do you go to church? Do you go for what you can get… or what you can give?  

I’ve been guilty many times of going for what I can get out of it. I hope the service helps me. I hope they sing my favorite song. I hope the message blesses me. I hope someone encourages me.

It becomes something for me. My needs, my feelings, my preferences. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe God is concerned with meeting our needs, but that should not be my only purpose in going to church. Church is about far more than me. And it’s not just about what God can do for me- it’s about what I can do for God.

So I’ve decided I’m not going to “church”- I’m going to worship. I’ve decided not to go to “church”- I’m going to serve. (Isn’t that why it’s called a “service”? Maybe we’ve turned it into a serve-us…)

What if we stopped going to church consumed with our needs (God will take care of them anyway), and started going consumed with the needs of others? What if we stopped going for what we could get, and started going for what we could give? What if we stopped going to church to fulfill an obligation, and started going to express a passion? What if we stopped going to church to sing about God, and started going to sing to Him?

I think it would transform our lives. And I think it would transform our churches.

So I’m not going to church anymore. I’m going to worship.

How about you?

Comment here: comments

  • http://onechristianssharing.blogspot.com Jim Foster

    Great article!! The title was a good grabber and the article followed through with a thoughtful and meaningful message. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep on reading.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Thank you, Jim. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and leave feedback!

  • Scott

    (clap) (clap) (clap) Bravo! [Standing ovation from Southern Indiana...]

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      [shy blush from Northeast Texas]
      To God be the glory.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        Agreed! [gentle chuckle from a displaced West Texan living in Colorado :-) ]

        • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

          Colorado?! I’m pure Texan, but I envy you… what part?

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            I grew up in Lubbock. Now I live in Colorado Springs. I will always be Texan – but, I do enjoy living in the Springs!

            • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

              I love Colorado Springs! If I had to live outside God’s Country, that’s not
              a bad alternative! ;)

              • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

                I like to think that I am just living in the Colorado Region of God’s Country ;-)

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    Great post. I’m joining you in not going to ‘church’ and going to worship.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Nothing makes me sick at my stomach like ‘fake church’…and nothing lights my fire like REAL church!

  • http://twitter.com/TrueMen True Men Ministries

    There was an outreach program that we used two years ago at our church called “Don’t Go to Church – Be the Church.”

    I think that’s what you are getting out, right?

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Exactly!
      “Don’t Go to Church – Be the Church” I love that.

  • Brissa

    I’m going to worship! :)

  • Modchristianmom

    You had me worried for you for a moment, but I agree with you after finishing. I do go for me because I have so much to learn. But also because I do give at church and around my church. There is a great opportunity to encourage and build relationships after the service. And there is a sweet homeless man I take to lunch and share the sermon with. So I agree, you must go to worship and serve but you cannot give what has not been given to you so you must also go for yourself

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Great comment.
      That is the beautiful two aspects of church – what it does for us (we learn, grow, develop relationships, connect with God, etc…) and what it allows us to do for God (serve, worship, minister, give, etc…)

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Well said Josh! I have watched so many people go to church with an ‘all about my needs’ mentality – even many of whom were serving in some capacity.

    So what do we do? I think it starts with us – setting the examples as leaders. Then, we become intentional about discipling those in our charge or sphere of influence. And, we lead the charge to come back to the heart of worship.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      You nailed it.
      I know it’s cliche, but it really “starts from the top down.”
      I’ve watched thousands of church services from the platform, and it’s incredible how when one person steps out and becomes vulnerable and passionate in their worship, others follow.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    A pastor once told me that he keeps his serve-us’s (sarcastic typo) to one hour max as it isn’t fair to ask the congregation to give more time to God on their weekends :( When you go to worship God, to serve Him (by serving others), then clock watching doesn’t happen, you want to spend time there.

    Don’t get me started on “worship” songs that are ME centric and what I want and what I can get from God rather than giving God the praise, honour, glory and WORTHship that He is due.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Preach it, sister! I’m with you. I can’t STAND self-centered “worship songs”
      that are pure selfishness disguised as praise.

      • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

        I think they call that “iWorship” lol

        • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

          Oooo! I like that! Definitely gonna be hearing that in a podcast soon… ;)

  • zenny casia

    i attend mass to celebrate with the eucharist and thanking God for all the things i am priviledge to enjoy in this life…air to breath…love to cherish…people to celebrate with and anything and everything…and as a friend of mine said: ” God gives us wisdom, talent, strength, health and countless more so will you not thank God? i go to church to thank Him.”

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      He deserves thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/DiscipleMaker Ken Kruithoff

    sneaky! and truthful too. nicely played!

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Thanks, Ken!
      I try to captivate attention to God’s message without cheapening it. That’s
      a tough job sometimes. (As a young adult leader, I’m sure you know that!)

  • Bhuebert

    Great thoughts. As a pastor, I get excited when people talk like you do… Love the “serve – us” line. Very cool. I also tell my congregation that you can’t “go” to church at all, because the church is a community—not a building, not an event, a community. So you either engage and invest in the community, or you don’t. That also means you can’t invite someone TO church. You invite them INTO church.

    Keep up the good work, bro.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Wow, great stuff! I totally agree with you.
      “You can’t invite someone TO church. You invite them INTO church.” Love
      that.

  • Adsheridan92

    dude very nice :) totally agree :/

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Let’s spread the word. Tell all our friends. We’re quitting church! ;)

  • Susanne Cooper

    This resonates with so many of us. May God continue to open our eyes. Thanks!

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord!

  • Vanessaelongoria

    I know you don’t want to go to church I agree with everything you say but, If your looking for a church that is all about worshiping god in the future go to elevate life church they really teach you about the word of god and I worship him like no other these days. Me myself am not perfect…

  • Vanessaelongoria

    Serve Serve Serve Love that!!!

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      There’s no better way to be Christlike than to serve!

  • Rebecca

    I go to Chicota Assembly of God where I have learned that going to church just isn’t enough. My pastor , Mishayla Brewer , has been accused in times past of driving people to worship. Well thank God there are pastors that really care about your soul enough to teach and encourage you!! Pray for me that I will learn worship that is pleasing to God…A sweet smelling savour…

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      That is an awesome perspective, Rebecca! You are exactly right.
      It is entirely possible to go to church and accomplish absolutely nothing.
      (I wrote about this in “Fake Church” http://joshuamhood.com/fake-church/)

      Like you, I want to learn to worship God even better, and bring Him more
      glory!

  • Hill Photos2009

    Sweet!

  • TCDavis

    Hi, Josh
    I’m finding in my interfaith work that not just Christian leaders, but leaders in other faith traditions too, are concerned about declining attendance in worship of younger people.  Your post implies that self-interest is the main attraction for attending church, and that the main reason for falling youth attendance is that youth do not find  worship in many places sufficiently self-serving.  I’m not convinced that your premise is correct.  Working with a campus ministry I find that opportunities to serve others is what is drawing newcomers these days.   It seems to me that self-gratification is not what most people want from church.  They want to find a purpose for living, a way to connect to others in deeper ways than the ambient culture provides, and a substitute for family when one’s own family has disintegrated, or even case one out.  

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      I understand what you’re saying, and I somewhat agree.
      My post was not directed toward young people- just us church attenders in general. While I would hope that our motivation for choosing and attending a church is to serve, our human nature is selfish and can shift our motivation over time. That’s what I was warning against. And recent studies report that 86% of church attendees say that the purpose of the church is “to meet my needs”.

  • Anonymous

    I go to church to serve and add value to others. If I can do this I will be feed as well. Thank you for the thought and post.

  • Kristie

    Wow, I really found this helpful. I to am over church, I find that’s it’s all just become about a social scene and and that is not the purpose. It’s for passionate worship and service

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Amen to that, Kristie! I couldn’t agree more.

  • Jordan

    No We Need Church becuse  Faith comes by hearing the word of God … Fellowship is to incourage others to stay strong  in there walk with God . Scripture says Iron sharpins Iron . Yes Kristie Worship is Also Vital an So is serving others  becuse the bible also says to love your neighbor as yourself .. an leaving the church is not helping you or God or anyone else for that matter . An one other Thing  Dont Juge the church  becuse the only one who can pass jugement is God him self . Amen

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Jordan, thanks for your comment!
      In case you missed it, this post had a sarcastic title. It was not actually saying we shouldn’t go to church; it was saying that we should define church as the things you listed: fellowship, ministry, encouragement, etc. I’m not going to “church” in the man-made, empty religious routines kind of way.
      I’m going to *worship*. I’m going to pray. I’m going to minister. Etc.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Hart4youth

     Josh I will Pray 4 you

  • Jordan

    If you  Want to Be in a Church that is Sprit filled An  Loves  others , Serves ,Worships ,Prays hard an Belives in what the Bible says ..  I want to invite you to my Church Were we Will Love on You Brother .

  • Woshichin

    Many people even leaders leave church because of hearts are not being satisfied.
    People didn’t get the appreciation.
    They serve until tired.
    And one thing is church is not making them happy.

    As well as me.
    I’m serving in church as musicians.
    People didn’t appreciate me and take for granted.
    Its so sad and even makes me become depressed to serve.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      You bring up a very important topic.
      Ministry burnout is a huge issue. I’ve experienced it myself (everyone in the ministry does at one time or another).
      It’s important for us to get our affirmation from God instead of the people we are serving. But easier said than done!

    • Jewelia

      Sorry you were not appreciated. I understand, I led worship for about 8 years and it wasn’t a paid position until I stepped away and the next person took over. Being paid was never an issue for me until then.

      The good news here is God would never do that 8-) It did hurt. And what was the Pastor thinking? I have no clue 8-)

  • Jewelia

    I think people have confused what family (the church) is and made it into a system. In many ways this system serves not the people but the one’s running the system.

    I often think about that the approach Jesus had which was to always give to the people, in the end he gave it all, his life. I don’t recall him passing a basket when he fed the thousands with the fish and the loaves, when he healed, or when he preached. He saw people were hungry so he fed them, he saw someone needed healing so he healed them, thirsty so he gave them drink. There is something about “Strings attached” that christian and non-christian don’t like. And I am all about giving to the things of God to build his Kingdom.

    With ministries can set up an address for those who want to give to the ministry and let God worry about the finances. We need to be concerend about one thing, lifting Jesus up, celebrating him, breaking bread with family, encouraging each other in the faith, and bringing the love and faith to the lost one’s.

    To many times our ministries put the wieght of their finances, their success, on the backs of the people. I see we can confuse people of who God really is with fear, guilt, leagalism, not all churches, but many do this. To many times the vison is more about a man or women’s vision and less about Gods vision which is his Son.

    God have mercy on all of us to portray your heart of love and generosity, show us what it is to be a family.

    We all fail at this at times and I am thankful for the Lords patience. I just want to know him better so I portray him better. I see my own failure as a christian to portray a loving God. I think we follow traditions we have been taught and just keep making the same mistakes.

    It’s a big responsibility to represent the Kingdom of God, to be ambassadors.

    If we lead by the example Jesus showed us, the baskets that are passed in our churches could not contain what we would be giving. If we represent him in love there is no limit to what he can do through us.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      “I just want to know him better so I portray him better.” I love that, Jewelia!

      • Jewelia

        It’s been a long journey of finding out who Jesus is for myself. I appreciate all the input I’ve had through the years from christains, (well not all lol) I feel bad because I see now they could not give me what they didn’t have.

        The thing here is if we put to much hope in people and they portray God wrong, well we have alot of mixed up christians who don’t know Jesus. We are full of fear and feel the need to perform to gain Gods love, we are under the law and not grace. So my quest is for truth and freedom.

        The season I’ve had out of church has been an important one. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace us and God alone. To many depend on leaders and Pastors for what was meant for them to only get from God. There begins the idolatry and we replace Jesus with “people”. People are good but Jesus is better. Buildings are good to meet in as community but family parties are better. We’ve made a system of being a family..8-) And made a system in our approach to God.

        There is so much of God our Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, to be discovered, actually I think it’s endless and I can’t wrap my mind around it. Let me go ponder…..

        Have a grand God kind of day!

        • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

          “Nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace us and God alone. To many depend on leaders and Pastors for what was meant for them to only get from God. There begins the idolatry and we replace Jesus with “people”. People are good but Jesus is better.”
          I couldn’t agree more! Well said.

  • Sara

    I love to look through religious bulletin covers to see what they display or maybe if there are service opportunities available. Tells me a lot about the church.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Very true, Sara. You can learn a lot about a church from their bulletin, website, and schedule.

  • sfw

    the church is God’s house, we go there to worship and praise him. We open the book and listen to the gospel message, we sing and give thanks. Is that really about me? The church is the arc, if we choose to leave the church we begin to get swept away by the pollution and immorality around us. When I attend mass i hope to be more filled with the spirit and not only can go out to serve and to live a life for God but also spread his message. We are his instruments, he works through us.

    • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

      Well said! It’s not about us, it’s all about Him.