Is Church A Waste of Time?

41 comments
April 20, 2012 ‐ By Alissa Henry

getreligion.org

A few years ago, Beyonce told a magazine that churchgoers’ reactions to her celebrity status keep her from attending church. “I think God understands if I miss Sunday service,” she said.

Well, Beyonce may not be one of them, but according to the National Council of Churches, 147.3 million people—or just under half of the American population—attend church.

Personally, I’m a church girl and have been for most of my life. I’m always at church. I volunteer at my church, worked at my church, went to high school at my church, attended a Bible college at my church and even met my husband at my church. However, as I’m reading more of the Bible, aggressively pursuing my career goals, paying closer attention to my financial status, navigating life as a newlywed and generally just re-evaluating several areas of my life, I’ve begun to wonder if incessant church attendance is necessary…or even productive?

I believe that church attendance is vital for education, edification, and fellowship with other believers. Week after week, God moves in churches across America to bring salvation, healing and deliverance. There are people in other countries who risk their lives to have an organized church service.

However, many churches like mine have three or more services a week and expect their members to attend every one. I’m not convinced any successful person spends this much time at church.

chron.com

How could they? There are only so many hours in a week and if we have jobs and families then where does excessive church attendance fit in? It doesn’t. Something has to suffer and because too many erroneously and un-Biblically equate church with Christianity, we find ourselves forsaking all to…attend church.

That’s not what God intended.

When people in the Bible asked Jesus what they must do to be saved, he didn’t answer, “Spend every waking moment at church,” so why, two-thousand years later, has the Way, the Truth, and the Life been watered down to church attendance?

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently reported that “roughly 60 percent of Black women say they attend religious services at least once a week. No group of men or women from any other racial or ethnic background exhibits comparably high levels of religious observance.”

We also know that, statistically, Black women lag behind others in the areas of health and wealth. Are our peers are climbing the ladder of success as we sit in our local sanctuaries? How can we even begin to fulfill the Great Commission and be the “light of the world” if we hide our light under the church pews?  Living in Christian bubbles is wholly ineffective. The expectation that Christians cloister in church every chance we get has largely left us out of the ranks of highly successful people. Is there a way to find a balance between spending time at church and still getting substantial things accomplished in life? I believe so.

Of course, I can think of many less noble ways to whittle away time than spending it at church. People spend an exorbitant amount of time watching Real[ly] [Not Anybody's] Wife of [Pick Your City], enjoying senseless “hobbies” or being engrossed in Facebook’s new Timeline feature. Personally, I’ve spent hours I’ll never get back on Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr or catching up on shows via DVR.

I’m merely suggesting for that we shouldn’t be made to feel as though we are less than heaven-bound because we skip a Wednesday night service in order to go to work, get our house in order or even to spend time with friends and family.

I’m no Beyonce Knowles but, yes,I know God understands if I too, miss a Sunday service.

Follow me on Twitter: @AlissaInPink or check out my blog This Cannot Be My Life 


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  • Negress

    My job is actually a waste of my time but I still go.

  • Gimmeabreak78

    Speaking as a former frequent churchgoer, I feel that church attendence does have its benefits, but it lost its luster a long time ago somewhere between the numerous sexual scandals which have engulfed churches of all denominations and the numerous money scandals that seem to occur every other week. 

    Further to that, it has been my experience that church is no longer a way for black people to get pratical information about the world they live in. During the Civil Rights Movement, churches were more involved in preparing people for not just life in the hereafter, but life in the here and now (i.e. voter registration drives, civil disobedience, etc). In this day an age, the way that HIV, crime, and unemployment are ravaging the black community, churches are curiously silent on those issues, while they are fervently insisting that we prepare to rejoice in glory in the sweet by and by.

  • Sabrina

    I don’t think you can go to church too much. To the well-aware Christian, God should always be put first in your life, and from there, everything else will prosper. So you wouldn’t need to worry about “becoming more successful” and other such things because He’s already working on that for you.

    Now I’m not saying I live in the church, going all day every day, but whenever I don’t HAVE to be somewhere, I don’t mind making myself available to some church service and receiving a Word and thanking God for all that He has done.

    Personally, it all depends on where your heart is as to whether you believe there’s such a thing as “going to church too much.”

  • Caroneisha

    My thing is, why is everyone worried bout what the next person is doing? So what if whores,pimps, or what have you are coming to church. Is that affecting you in any shape, form or fashion? You came to church to praise god and receive the word, so do that. And god can speak through anybody he chose, it’s up to you to get it. And this whole study about health and wealth among black women is bs. Boy I swear when people want to justify when their doing wrong they would use anything as a defense. You can’t allow other things to tarnish your vision, cause if you do you will miss your blessings. Yes, people use god as a tool to make money, but it’s up to you to not take part in that. Everything in life is about free will, meaning either you can chose the right thing or the wrong it is completely up to you. But be very careful because for every action there will be a reaction. And last be not least, all of you negative people out there, before you leave this earth god will reveal himself to you and you will have no choice but to eat every last negative thing you have said about him. But untill then all I have to say is ” Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

    • KickWhitesOutAfrica

      It’s black people like you who are the MAJOR problem of our people.  CHRISTIANITY has done nothing GOOD for us.  It has only done us EVIL.  CHRISTIANITY has kept us loving and forgiving our enemies who have lynched, burned, tarred and featured us… the list goes on.  CHRISTIANITY has kept us ignorant of who we really are.  It has kept us fleecing our people through offering and tithes.  But worst of all, CHRISTIANITY has kept us worshipping an IDOL. Black Christians are the TRUE DESTROYERS of our people and until they walk away from that poisonous religion our people are going to continue to suffer under the whip of Ole Massa’s God – JESUS CHRIST.  You need to WAKE UP to the LIES you’ve been spoon-fed. 

  • KickWhitesOutAfrica

    The CHURCH is a CURSE on us.  The sooner we burn them all down the better off we will all be.

  • MixedUpInVegas

    To somehow tie church attendance to the lack of wealth and health for black women seems a spurious connection to me.  Church attendance, or lack thereof, is an intensely personal issue.  People find a connection with God in nature, in meditation and in many other ways.

    Each person has to find their own spiritual connection with God.  If regular church attendance does it for you, good on ya.  If you find that same connection some other way, also good.  Each person’s connection with their Lord is their own business and it is not for us to judge how they find Him or how they go about it.

  • FromUR2UB

    The first church I joined as an adult was a COGIC, where the services were not only long, but were held twice on Sundays, and once or twice on weeknights.  Those people attended every service. On Sundays, they went home after the first service long enough to get something to eat and then change clothes, went back at 3PM, and stayed until 8 or 9PM.  I began to notice that at every service, the pastor’s sermon only lasted about 30 minutes, and always ended with the same scripture about tithes and offerings, at which point the collection plates were brought out.  Someone counted the money, and then the pastor and his wife would stand together, as she stated they would “have a good offering” if so many more dollars were collected.  The service would not proceed at that point, until the rest of the money was collected.  I remember once, they stood there silently for almost ten minutes, until a few people finally dug into their purses and wallets to meet the demand. 

    There were also members whose children were often in some type of trouble.  I think it was because their parents neglected them through their dedication to the church.  They seemed to think that simply being at church, would make the kids turn out OK.  Their whole lives revolved around the church, and there was no time to spend with their kids, or do other things.  There was probably no money either, because most of the congregation were working class people, who were giving all their money to the church.

    That’s when I began to think things were really wrong in that church.  It was a small church of only about 40 – 50 members, but the pastor drove a top of the line Mercedes.  I began to think that car may have had something to do with the focus on money collection.  I also began to wonder if the pastor was even literate, because that one scripture he used at every service, was always read by his wife.  After the money was collected, the remainder of the service fell into dancing in speaking in tongues.  One time, I asked why there was never anyone to interpret what was being said.  They looked at me like I’d grown horns. After a few months of that, I had become weary from the experience.  I didn’t feel as though I was learning anything there, and was tired of the money-grubbing. 

    The next one I attended was a large baptist church.  All I have to say about that one, is that as I was standing in the lobby, looking at a portrait of the Senior Pastor, I noticed that he had long fingernails.  Not long for a man, but long even for a woman.  I thought it made him look like a pimp, so everytime I looked at him, I couldn’t get those long fingernails out of my mind.

  • ThisChick

    What’s expect or you nd what you actually choose to do are to very diff things. You can go to church everyday all day but that doesnt mean you automtically go to heaven. Its about your relationship with God. Cuz it plenty of people in church who dont honestly trust or believe in him. Your walk with God determines how strong your relationship is with him…Im going to leave it at that and let it marinate….

    • AngelicSunshine

      This is my first response as well. I agree that it is all about your relationship with God. I have been born and raised in Church, with my Grandfather being the Bishop in another country and my father being the Bishop here. It took me getting seizures out of the blue my last year of highschool, being diagnosed with bi-tempolar epilepsy, having to have brain surgery, falling and busting my head open on concrete resulting in a concussion and contusion, and then diagnosed with a 1 in a million auto immune disease called Stiff Person Syndrome in order for me to gain that relationship with God. You know what He did for me because I am young but stayed in the Sunday services so many of you are complaining and making excuses not to attend…he told the devil that he is a liar that I am not going to die like those drs said. God restored my legs so I wouldn’t be in a wheelchair, restored my memory so that I finished college in 3 years with straight As and left drs in 4 different hospitals shocked. Despite being young, I don’t need to club. I enter into His gates with thanksgiving and sing His Eye Is On The Sparrow. If you have life, you better thank God in His Sanctuary. Follow the Bible as it states not in your bed!

  • http://twitter.com/TheLewisEffect Yolanda Lewis

    Thank you for writing this. I used to feel like something was wrong with me for not being in several ministries and at church for this reason or that reason, but if I did all that where would I have found the time to  complete my degree (online), relax after working a fulltime job, and just straight chill. 

  • suga

    “We also know that, statistically, Black women lag behind others in the areas of health and wealth.” “Living in Christian bubbles is wholly ineffective. The expectation that Christians cloister in church every chance we get has largely left us out of the ranks of highly successful people.”
    When statistics show that our negative numbers in health and wealth are directly tied to subpar government institutions, like schools and hospitals and other community resources that lack the money that other communities are swimming in, how in the world do you conclude that being in church is the cause of it? This article is extremely irresponsible.

  • sunsetssplendor

    I attended church 1x a week for two hours and it was sufficient. My pastor would encourage us to attend mid week services but as the writer states I had other obligations. Successful people are DOING not SITTING in a pew therefore I agree with that observation as well and actually had a chuckle. Some churches do not respect their members time and expect you to remain seated for 3-4 hours. I don’t attend those types of churches due to that very reason. My main reason for going was to get the word and fellowship with other believers. I haven’t been in a while since relocating and somewhat miss it but I do have daily devotions/prayer time.

     http://doingmemindbodyandspirit.blogspot.com/

  • JazzyJazzyJay

    My comments never stay on here. I wonder if this one makes it. Anywho. No church is not a waste of time.  If you have time to visit Madame Noire & take trips, & go to movies & chill with friends then you have PLENTY of time to go to church.  A lot of people who go to church only go on Sundays & other special events (including me). BUT I do attend every Sunday because I believe I can make time for God.  As for those other days, I read my bible.  You don’t have to go to church every waking hour to say that you’re a “church goer” or a “christian.”  A lot of people who go aren’t even Christians.  It’s about your relationship with God.

  • jackieOsassin

    religion as a whole is just one big waste of time. not just the institution of church.

    • KickWhitesOutAfrica

      You’re absolutely right.

  • Smacks_hoes

    For starters I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious. I love god I just dont find it necessary to be in church to praise god and thank him for everything that he’s done for me. Truth be told I’ve had some of the most intense praise and worship sessions in my own bed. At times when im in church I feel a sense of people being fake. Like the passing out on cue because of the “holy spirit”, preaches begging for more money in the collection plate, etc. Don’t get me wrong i believe when the spirit takes over you things happen, but the same person passing out on cue every Sunday just doesn’t strike me as being very sincere. Their are so many corrupt churches out there that focus more on money than the world of God that sometimes I’d just rather stay home and gloryfiy him all by myself.

  • Recure718

    I live in Brooklyn, N.Y. There is a church there that is as big as a stadium, very extravagant, LCDs, ATMs, women dressed like they are going to the club, dudes showing up in their new BMWs. Now me going there for the first time seeing all this say to myself..Is this what it’s about? Cause I could have swore this was church not a circus or lounge. . Then you have these whores,criminals, down right evil people (not all)  preaching to you and going to  the church and when service is over go out and do the same things they ask for forgiveness for.  Church is dead cause it is moving away from what it was mainly established for. I’m good. I have my home, I have my bible, I am perfectly able to comprehend everything that i read. Gracias. 

  • guestks

    I have read several articles on this website
    however this is one of the first ones in which I have chosen to respond. First,
    understand that my opinion is for me and what I affirm to be true in my
    life, so take it with that in mind. What we must not forget is the support that
    church has played in many lives, and like one of the other posts God has been
    too good, too righteous and to magnanimous to me and my family to look at
    attending church as a chore. Many have said that God lives in you and that you
    don’t need to attend to have that connection and for me this isn’t true.
    Attending church for me is like therapy, there will be numerous times in which
    the pastor will mention something in his/or her sermon that I needed to hear
    and just needed that confirmation that what I was struggling with wasn’t in
    vain. And here’s the thing…We cannot say that Jesus lives in us, and that he
    “understands’, if we don’t clean our temple (because where sin resides he
    cannot be), and we don’t spend time in HIS word. Period point blank. Wherever
    you stand think about how much time we spend doing things that we want to do,
    then think of what we are saying here. It’s all about your will but the beauty
    in following God is surrendering that will for the greater ONE.

  • Mls2698

    The “Church” is in YOU. Attend 1000 services, but if a person has no actual connection to God, its just entertainment, and a ploy to make others think you’re a “good” person.

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  • Business406

    It amazes me how all the things that we can spend less time doing, someone writes a article saying we need to spend less time in church. Why not? We are a godless country anyway.

  • RedButterfly81

    The apostolic church I go to isn’t a waste of time. I have a lot of friends and family who go to the same church and I’m more happier at that church because they’re more accepting and less judgmental and I make a lot of friends there and so does my daughter. Before I joined that church, I was living a depressed life, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was suicidal, but I never stopped believing in God and decided to seek psychiatry myself so I can be a great mother to my daughter and live a happy life. Church also adds to my happiness as well.

  • http://twitter.com/MrsNP2 NP

    I too have been a church girl all my life. However, recently because of (churchfolk) and certain things that I was going through such as a (failed relationship) which turned nasty it was hard to go. I felt as if I was being judge constantly nevertheless, I thank God for his mercy and helping me to refocus as to why I come to church. In retrospect it’s not for people its for the edification of my soul and making sure I have done what I need to do before I leave this life. God is truly the greatest and I’m truly grateful for all the blessing he has bestowed upon my life I am a better person because of these experiences! 

  • W Veronica7

    I find church beneficial to my success. God has been too good to me to turn my nose up on a 2 hour church service on sunday, I have a 166 other hours in the day to get things done. He has definitely made ways out of no ways for me. I make wednesdays when I can. Do not be conformed to this world, the enemy wants you to feel that church is a hinderance to your success. If you don’t go to church then keep that day holy in your own way. 

    • sunsetssplendor

      Clearly two hours a week is not the issue. The author clearly states the MANY services offered throughout the week that churches often expect ALL members to attend.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

    they expect you to attend,so they can make sure they have your $$$. No $$ in people who don’t make time to attend.

    • Business406

      It saddens me to see whenever you leave a comment because it’s always guaranteed to be a immature ignorant statement. Go back to bed Kayla. Goodnight.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

        You were the one who compared transgender people to people having sex with animals….. yet i’m ignorant….

        • Business406

          You sure are. And probably always will be. You have no morals or ethics. I think the question for you is, what wouldn’t you do?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

            “I have no morals or ethics” based on what evidence? it’s funny you attack me, but not my comments. You completely ignore them to go off on your own tangent. Speaking of which you still never gave me your opinion on hermaphrodites?? Maybe because it would destroy your whole argument. So instead you attack me. Calling me names doesn’t change the points I make. So please try again.

            • Business406

              Calling you names is one thing. And stating that you have no morals is another. Your opinion of living life without limit or ethics is the disconcerting fact Kayla. I understand that hermaphrodites confuse you, therefore blurring the identity of a man versus a woman. You need to do more research on the topic, then you will understand that not only is it a severe birth defect caused when the baby is forming in the womb, but the chromosomes always clearly differenciate the sex of the child. But of course, you’ll find a way to distort fact, because of your confusion. I’m glad someone taught you what you are because you clearly accept whatever someone tells you.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

                I live my life with no ethics? I’m still waiting on the proof. You did mention that in your eyes just because a man cuts off his parts doesn’t make him a woman. In turn you’re saying it’s not the body parts that make him a man..Correct? It all has to do with science you know biology, chromosomes, the brain  etc..  Which you mentioned. So you basically made my point when it comes to trans people it’s the biology or the science that counts. Biologically in this case she has the mind of a woman but the body of a man.  How can you and others with your viewpoint say that a person who has male body parts is a man, yet suddenly a hermaphrodite woman with male parts is not a man. LOL. which one is it.. It’s either the body parts make the person or not…
                 Please know that periods,child birth, etc are qualities not defining characteristics of a woman. Please also know that humans are more complex than what you make them out to be. 

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

                 there is scientific proof that the brains of transgender individuals work like the gender they identify as. Men and women’s brains function differently, and we can see that in tests and brain scans. But of course you didn’t know that because all it is is cutting off your parts and throwing on a dress. Which apparently in your mind is the same as having sex with a horse *eye roll*. 
                And btw why are you flip-flopping, if you think package=man and vag=woman, then why did you make an exception to Hermaphrodite woman? You can’t have both it’s either the genitalia makes the person or they don’t. But if you can agree that in that case it’s all about the the biology of the person(regardless of body parts or lack thereof)then you prove my point about trans people. She is really a woman…..

                and on a sidenote periods,childbirth,breasts. etc.. are qualities of woman not defining characteristics. You can still be a woman without those things….. 

              • Business406

                Your reasoning is laughable and defenitely incorrect. You want to mention brain scans? LOL! Kayla you will find a way to justify your perverted way of thinking by any means necessary. I’m done conversing with you. Trying to give you wisdom is like giving money to a baby. So do me and everyone in the world with morals a favor, go get a lobotomy.

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

                  brain scans… yes actual proof. Shocking I know.
                  and where is this evidence of my lack of morals?

  • Wisdom

    You can be so heaven bound, you’re no earthly good!

    • Business406

      Your name contradicts your statement. Smh.

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