Is It Really Worth Going Back to Church Again?

Is It Really Worth Going Back to Church Again?

Sunday Scripture and Book Talk

Slightly hard of hearing in his Sunday suit and tie, the smiling usher boomed a greeting into the cold and cavernous narthex.

“You forgot to set your clocks ahead, right?”

Immediately, the disjointed pieces of that chaotic Sunday morning fell into place. The full parking lot, the prevailing hush — yes, we were an hour late for church, which meant we had arrived just in time for the sermon conclusion and the last amen. Wearing our awkwardness like ill-fitting choir robes, we exited as discretely as two people wearing dress shoes can manage in an echoing church entryway, and we rode in silence across town to our tiny apartment on Middle Street — an address that had become an accurate and stinging summary of our entire lives in that season.

A career change for my husband had put our workplaces over two hours apart, but we’d cheerfully split the difference and settled in neutral territory exactly halfway between, telling ourselves it was temporary and a good test of our independence within this new marriage of ours. No friends, no family, no church ties anchored us in this new home base, but we were optimistic, so . . .

Let the church hunt begin!

I’m sharing the story of that crazy season of our life together over at The Perennial Gen today, and my hope is to encourage you, whether you are living in the on-ramp toward faithful church attendance or standing still in a world where it doesn’t seem clear to you that in-person worship is worth it after all.  

Finding community can be a long and challenging process, but the rewards are worth the wait. Thanks for joining me for the rest of the article, and while you are there, take a minute to browse the work of other writers in that community of faith, connection, and friendship.

Finding community can be a long and challenging process, but the rewards are worth the wait.

Book Talk

I’m experimenting with the idea of posting just once a week here at Living Our Days. Because so many of you respond to the Sunday Scripture post, I’ll be keeping that timing, format, and biblical content, but will follow it up with reviews of whatever I’ve been reading recently. I hope you’ll let me know how this new format works for you!

Forming Resilient Children by Holly Catterton Allen

People of faith frequently need both language and license to say what’s true, even if it’s not a commonly held belief in the broader culture. For decades, the importance of the spiritual nurture of children has been questioned, particularly since most twentieth-century psychologists operated from a secular materialist worldview. If matter truly is all that matters, it’s hard to make a case for the primacy of the spiritual life, particularly in a context in which spiritual realities are deemed irrelevant—or non-existent.  

Given that children are spiritual beings AND given that children need resilience to manage life on a fallen planet, I couldn’t have imagined navigating the growing-up process with my four sons without a worldview that recognizes the sovereignty and the goodness of God. Fortunately, the work of Holly Catterton Allen is building a bridge between resilience studies and real life, and in  Forming Resilient Children: The Role of Spiritual Formation for Healthy Development she argues that children need spiritual strength in order to cope, particularly in these challenging times.

Since nurturing spirituality does, indeed, promote resilience, parents, grandparents, and educators need strong support in preparing children to survive both the routine disappointments of life and also the more severe adversity, trauma, and grief that befalls even the most well-established families. Allen demonstrates how routine habits of holiness as part of a child’s life and exposure to a thriving faith community can help to strengthen and support the God-bestowed spirituality that is key for living with resilience in the growing-up years.

Since resilience in children is interconnected with spirituality,  Allen makes a case for fostering children’s spirituality in public education settings and defines spirituality in terms of the three relationships everyone experiences with self, with others, and with God. Coming from a Christian perspective of spiritual formation, the church is the ideal support system for the home in providing tools, encouragement, and accountability for building resiliency in our children. Like us, our children are on a path of transformation into Christ’s image, and Forming Resilient Children provides case studies and dozens of examples of how we can nurture spirituality in our children, and, in the process, also contribute to their resilience.

Thank you!

It’s a joy to come alongside you with resources to strengthen your faith-walk, your parenting, and your confidence as a Christ-follower! Thank you for reading and for sharing this resource with others.

Holding you in the Light,

“When I teach the Bible to children, my long-term, ultimate purpose is to help them know God… to foster that ineffable child-God relationship.” ~Holly Catterton Allen, Forming Resilient Children via @ivpress

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

47 thoughts on “Is It Really Worth Going Back to Church Again?”

  1. I read the rest of the story and found it timely and encouraging, as we are facing the possibility of a move and “church shopping” coming up. We do need the fellowship and belonging of a faith community – may we all be welcoming and compassionate to those that are new or searching, whatever their situation.


  2. We have forgotten to set our clocks and shown up at the end of the services two different times. And then last Sunday, they had combined services and split the difference to a new and different time and once again we arrived just as they were singing the ending hymn. Heading over to finish the post.


  3. Michelle,
    Over 20 years ago, we found the perfect church for us but now with the Pandemic and the serious lack of people complying with our Bishop’s request for everyone to wear masks in church for Mass, I have been watching online Masses for almost 2 years now…Until things get MUCH better, which I think will take at least 2-3 more years, I do not foresee me attending Mass in person because of my auto immune disease…We do automatic monthly donations and donate to fund raisers, supporting our parish but I do miss the “community” of attending in person.Thanks so much for stopping by!! Happy New Year!!!


  4. Michele, I love your perspective. When Hubs and I first moved to a new city, we were dealing with infertility, and our first visit to a church was on Mother’s Day . . . where carnations were offered and rescinded (by male ushers, so I understand) when I mentioned I wasn’t a mom. Such a painful time. Funny enough, that church did become our home, in time.

    I love your perspective that we can be a welcoming face to people who are new and in search of a good church home. Great, encouraging post!


    1. Oh, mercy! It’s a wonder you recovered from that one. Evidence of your graciousness, for sure.
      I want to be that welcoming face, and I still remember the awkwardness of trying to connect, so it keeps me on my toes.


  5. We have almost always been church attenders since we became believers. And for the most part, deeply involved. But it took many years before we realized what it really meant to be part of a biblical church community and how valuable it is to our spiritual growth and its blessings. That truth has been driven home in fresh ways in the last year.


  6. I’m an Early Childhood professional so we talk a lot about resiliency. Especially during the pandemic. As a Pastor’s wife, I have had many conversations around the importance of church attendance. I find them equally important and intertwined. We need to feel safe and loved before we can experience resilience. Regular church attendance ushers us into an intimate relationship with God and helps build deeper relationships with one another. It fosters a feeling of security and connection. It’s a family environment.


    1. THIS:
      “ We need to feel safe and loved before we can experience resilience. Regular church attendance ushers us into an intimate relationship with God and helps build deeper relationships with one another.”

      So very true, and May our children find their way to resilience in just this way!


  7. if ever our kids/grandkiddos needed resilience and a faith that’s strong, it’d be right about now, when so much in their lives is topsy-turvy and unknown. i’ve watched my 6 pretty much from afar the last few years and theirs is a childhood/young adulthood that we never could have imagined.

    gratefully, God isn’t at all surprised … and He is able to give them everything they need ‘for life and godliness.’


  8. Off topic, but when you mentioned about being late because of the clock change, it brought me right back to when my little brother was late for an ice hockey match for that exact reason. It was that moment of horror when the buzzer went for the first period that sticks in my mind, but also the joy, as a family, all hands on deck trying to get him changed, skates on and into the team box asap before anyone noticed! Fun times. Thank you for joining us for #mischiefandmemories


  9. I’ve been in exactly the same position — an hour late for church due to the “spring ahead” nature of the change to daylight savings time — when I was living in a new city. My husband and I have also done the “church shopping” thing. We’re blessed to be members of a church that feels like family for the past 13 years (after moving to our current city).


  10. I hope I have taught my boys to be resilient. I think that is one key factor we all need to keep going and to keep on doing our best even when it feels like perhaps our best isn’t good enough.


  11. I loved this article, Michele. (By the way, should I post a comment at The Perennial Gen?) Anyway, this is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about. Our church has started meeting in person again. . . well, sort of. We’re masked, and we don’t have a full Sunday school, and our service is shorter, and we’re also livestreaming–you get the picture! I’ve noticed that a number of our “regulars” just haven’t come back to in-person services. But oh, how we need each other!

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!


    1. I’m sure that Per Gen readers would love it if you posted a comment. I’m grateful for your thoughts on church. It really is a layer of complexity unique to the Christian communty, and I am an avid observer of the impact the pandemic has had on our habits of holiness.


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