Your physical well-being is important to God.
You will deal with many situations in life that will leave you feeling tired and exhausted. You may be overworked or incredibly busy juggling a million priorities inside and outside of the home. You may even be going through a season of depression. These periods can leave you feeling incredibly worried and frustrated. If you are active in church, but feeling exhausted, you may wonder if you need to step away for a little bit for rest. Sometimes, you may be giving so much energy to the church that you are physically exhausted and low in your faith. Is it OK to miss church to rest? In short, the answer is yes. You can miss church to rest and re-energize. It is extremely hard to give your best to the church when you are spiritually burnt out. However, you should ask yourself what is the root of your tiredness.
But we must also ask ourselves what we need rest from. Do we feel the need to stay home and rest because we are overspent at church? Perhaps a more honest approach with others who are ministering needs to happen. Do you need time to sit in the sanctuary or Sunday school class with the singular focus of growing, learning, and being accountable without the distraction of serving? That’s okay. Let those around you know. But own it. Don’t dodge church attendance because you can’t say “no.”
There are times where you will need to step away from your church responsibilities. You may be giving so much of yourself to other ministries that you are missing opportunities to learn and grow in your faith. For example, if you’re active in the youth ministry, it may be time for you to join an adult Sunday school class where you can focus on your faith growth.
If you find yourself stretched incredibly thin, and you’re feeling too tired to go to church, it may be time to look at your schedule and figure out how you need to reallocate your time. If you have a million responsibilities at home, it may be time to get your partner to step in to help you balance some of your tasks, so you have time to breathe and focus again on what matters to you. If you are going through a period where you feel emotionally exhausted and your desire to go to church is diminishing, this may be the tempter pulling you away from God. He will use your exhaustion as an excuse to miss church. The more you allow the voice to get in your head, the more you are sabotaged. These are the moments when you should be seeking the Lord the most.
It’s important to understand why God wants you to go to church. We know that the church isn’t just a building. It represents the people. It is a word that is used in Scripture in multiple ways. One of the ways it is defined is as the body of Christ. A church can simply an assembly of believers coming together. The Apostle Paul says, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2). We are called together as a body of living, individual believers.
We know that God wants us to go to church because it is something Jesus often did. The Bible says, “[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was His custom” (Luke 4:16). Most of us remember the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” When we join Christ in fellowship, we are called to do what Jesus did. We should be living out this example in our everyday lives. God calls us to join others in the church.
Another reason why God wants us to go to church is that it is good practice. The Bible says, “Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship. But we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer” (Hebrews 10:25). The Bible tells us that we should worship regularly. It is also a great place for fellowship. If we are missing church for any reason, we miss opportunities to hear God’s Word and encourage other believers. We can enrich our faith when we participate in groups and classes and pray, help, and encourage others in the church. Going to church on a regular basis is good habit. When you benefit from church, those around you also benefit.
Spiritual maturity will push us to go to church, not just because it’s a good habit but also because we gain so much from it. Think about the reason you joined your church. One of the reasons you were called was because of Christ. When we come together in a union with other believers, we are also in union with Christ.
While rest can be a warranted reason for not going to church, there are some reasons that simply aren’t. If the church you’re going to is not guided in God’s Word or centered in Christ, it is cause for pause. If your church is more focused on money or teaching false doctrine, it also should cause alarm. This is not what the New Testament outlines for the church. If you are experiencing these things right now, these are good reasons to leave your church. You should examine where your heart is.
The church is where believers go to be inspired and follow Christ’s mission for our lives. We can discover our sense of purpose there and create our hearts anew. If you need rest, take some time to figure out why and make it a top priority to get yourself to a place where you’re not exhausted. Then, you can get to the point of growing in your faith life again. We could be doing millions of other things on Sunday, including catching up on sleep, but none of these outweigh being in mission and fellowship with Christ.
What Does This Mean for the Church?
We were called to be different. Not part of this world. Church is something we are, not just somewhere we go. But it is a collective. Not a single individual. You can’t experience church watching a sermon alone at home. You can’t be the church worshipping with songs on your iphone with your earbuds in.
Being the church will require sacrifice. And on the most basic, beginning level, part of that sacrifice is getting out of your routine and comfort zone and engaging God’s people.
Scripture tells us the Bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). It’s who she is. Who she is meant to be. So make yourself ready. Make a conscious decision to be the set apart child of God you are meant to be and go be part of the church. Partake. Give. Let yourself learn and grow.
If you are tired and need rest, is it because the world is exhausting you and perhaps you’ve been engaging church with the same set of expectations as you do the world? Don’t approach church like you do the rest of the world. She doesn’t work that way. And it’s wearing all of us out.
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