21 June 2021 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
Aunty, I confess I’m resonating with some of your other questioners. The time away from church has helped me to see that I was too often enduring the local church experience, not enjoying it. Being with community of real people should be encouraging and spiritually uplifting. But in my region there’s only one congregation to go to, and (I admit with some sadness) it’s been nice not being there.
Recently my church has reopened. I feel that I should return, because there are already too few who attend. But I wish I were looking forward to it more. I’m wondering, Aunty, if there’s anything we learned from the lockdown that can help us to do church better as we return.
Holding on to Hope
There has long been a need to reform the way we have traditionally done church. Perhaps this is a good time to address some of those things.
What are the things we have enjoyed about our Sabbaths at home since the lockdown began? Here are some Aunty has heard:
- I like how relaxed I feel when I don’t have to get ready for church.
- There is less burden on me because I’m not responsible for my various church duties.
- I can choose my own fellowship through the internet by watching church services at churches far away, or by participating in virtual Sabbath services such as the Adventist Today Sabbath Seminar.
- I can choose to appreciate God by doing activities with my family such as trips to the beach, the woods, a lake, or even a stroll through the neighborhood.
- When I go to church I feel like I’m wearing my “church face.” I greet everyone with a smile and say “Happy Sabbath!” whether I’m feeling that way or not. I’m more authentic at home.
- As an introvert, church stresses me out. So much small talk. So little depth of relationship. It’s emotionally draining.
These comments lead Aunty to this conclusion: the way church is currently designed makes some people feel phony, isolated, and stressed out.
Aunt Sevvy doesn’t have all the answers. Let’s just say it is high time pastors and church leaders stopped leaning so heavily on tradition and began experimenting with creating a church culture where people will feel supported, connected, and joyful.
But as for you? You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. Take your guilt in hand and stay home? Attend, but fewer times so you can do more of the other things that make the Sabbath a delight? Talk to your pastor and church board about what’s troubling you? Start your own house church?
Perhaps Aunty needs to turn this back to you, her readers. What do you think? How would you counsel this questioner?
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.