Return to Church during the holidays?

Return to Church during the holidays? January 2, 2024

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A Few Observations

Parishioners who have fallen away from the Church often ask me: “Should I return to Church during the holidays?”  I would never discourage anyone from returning to the Church. I might, however, question whether this is the best time to give the Church a second (or third) chance. It may depend on why you left the Church in the first place or your motivation for returning now. Perhaps individuals think like this: “If I attend a crowded service (Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc.), I can blend into the crowd. Nobody will be aware of my presence, and if I decide not to return, no one will notice my absence.”

Some Reasons to Return to Church during the Holidays

  • If you are inspired to return now, do it! Your motivation may diminish later. When you sense a longing for the fellowship, encouragement, and spiritual lift that can be a part of a healthy church environment, it may be a perfect time to step back in.
  • Crowds are generally larger during the holiday season. This makes it more comfortable for someone to slip in unnoticed. If you don’t want a big fuss made over the fact that you’re there, you may be able to attend virtually unnoticed at this time of year. Christmas Eve can be an excellent choice, as many pastors cite it as the largest holiday service. It is also a service that many non-churchgoers and non-believers attend. This may lower the risk of those judgmental stares.
  • A holiday service can be a gentle reminder of the importance of the season and, therefore, an indication of the vital place your faith once played in your life.

A Few Precautions About the Holidays and Church

  • Everyone will be on their best behavior. This may sound like a plus. But it can disguise some of the issues you had with the Church in the first place. This can lead to disappointment and another departure from the Church once things return to “normal.” We must accept that churches are full of flawed people, including church leaders and congregants. Our Church experience will always be tainted until we face this fact.
  • In many churches, although nostalgic and a reminder of beautiful traditions, the holiday services can be less “spiritual.” Pastors often avoid delving into deeper Scriptural truths when there are many guests. This is understandable from a practical perspective. More substantial teaching will likely draw us closer to God than the superficial teachings we may receive during the holidays.
  • Holidays can be an extremely stressful and event-packed season. Cramming another activity into an already hectic schedule can be a poor way to renew your relationship with God and His Church.

If You Are Considering a Return to Church During the Holidays

One, consider why you left the Church. Did you cause the issue, or was it someone else? Do you think that conflict needs to be resolved? You will unlikely be able to integrate yourself into church life until you resolve the underlying conflict.

Two, substantiate why you want to return. You must have a compelling motivation stronger than any challenges you encounter. If not, you will likely fall away again when you face the uncomfortable and unsavory parts of church life.

Many years ago, I tried to leave the church. I had been hurt. I was determined, like a jilted lover, that I would not let the Church hurt me again. But I could not stay away. Something kept drawing me back. It wasn’t easy. Over the years, there has been more pain, more reunions with the Church, and more than a few bumps and bruises along the way. But I haven’t left the church. Why? Because it’s not my church or yours. It’s God’s Church, and I need to be a part of it.

Blessings on your journey home.





























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