When Going to Church Isn’t Fun
You’ve felt it, haven’t you? You wake up on Sunday morning and realize that for the past several weeks (or even months) you are not excited to go to worship. Maybe the singing hasn’t been that great in your opinion. Maybe the sermons have seemed dull and uninspiring. Maybe you aren’t feeling very connected to the other members. Whatever the reason, it just feels like going to worship is work and you are tired of it.
Before we go on, it is important to see that there are two very important aspects to this scenario. First, there is the mental/emotional aspect, or the way that you are thinking or feeling about going to worship and engaging. Then, there is the behavioral aspect. This represents the actions you are taking, or what you are doing regardless of how you feel about it. A good way to understand these two elements is by thinking about a time when you went to work/school when you didn’t really want to. You behaved a certain way regardless of your feelings. The opposite situation would be one in which you really wanted a snack, but didn’t get up to get one because you were already sat down or in bed. The point here is that sometimes our feelings and actions don’t always match up and the goal here is to make them match up. However, it is often easier to change our behavior than it is to change our feelings. Sometimes, it is possible to change our behavior in such a way that begins to change our feelings. So, the following are a few behavior changes we can make that can help change the way you feel about worship.
1. Engage. This is behavioral, not mental. Engage means that when you show up to worship, you make the decision to be present. Sing to the best of your ability. Listen intently to the lesson. Shake hands after worship. Make conversation with the other members even if you’re not feeling it. Often, when we are feeling lethargic about worship, we show up and wait for something/someone to make us feel better, which doesn’t always happen. When we choose to take ownership of our involvement we begin to take the first steps beck toward that excitement we once had rather than putting it on something out of our control.
2. Study your Bible. I know it sounds basic and cliché, but it is really true. We know that the Word of God is powerful. However, the mental aspect here is signifi-cant as well. When we read for fun, work or school. That information is fresh on our minds. It influences our thinking patterns and even our conversation. I read something the other day for my Economic Psych class and within an hour I was chatting up my very patient wife about loss aversion and prospect theory. These are things I never cared about before but they were influencing my conversation. What we put into our minds alters our behavior. Put God’s Word in your mind, and it might change more than you realize.
3. Set yourself up to win. The reason for good preparation is that it can change how you behave and feel. For example, I have my exit exam for my Master’s program coming up and it’s a big one. I am horrible at studying and wasn’t making adequate time for it. Why? Because, it’s not fun. So I put my study guide book next to my bed. Just by making that small change and preparing differently, I am now study-ing more frequently. It’s still not fun, but it is getting easier. Simple behavioral changes like that can make a big difference in our behavior, which can in turn begin to change our feelings.
I am going to leave it there for today. Now, you have 3 small manageable changes that you can make if you are not feeling super excited about worship. Remember though, these items are not the solution; they are simply tools you can use to jump-start your way back to that conviction you once had. Remember, please, weakness does not make you bad. It just makes you human. Identify your weaknesses so that you can know what you need to work on.