Going back to church

Published 7:03 pm Monday, September 6, 2010

This month, I heard for the first time about National Back to Church Sunday.

Bonnie Speight, a member at Bethlehem Christian Church, dropped by the office to make sure I knew about National Back to Church Sunday, a nationwide movement that local churches are participating in to encourage people to come back to church, much as they are getting ready for back-to-school.

While writing about Bethlehem’s participation in the special day, set for Sept. 12, I learned some interesting facts about churchgoing. I learned that only 2 percent of regular churchgoers invite someone to church in any given year, but most who don’t go to church would be open to it if a friend or family member invited them.

I also learned that most people who stop going to church don’t do so because they’ve lost their faith — they simply fall out of the habit.

That’s the way I was about four years ago. I had been a Christian since the age of 5, and a regular churchgoer at the same church in Hampton from the age of 16 all the way through college.

However, after I graduated from college, I moved farther away from my home church. I started working at the paper Tuesday through Saturday, and was taking graduate school courses Monday through Thursday evenings.

I gradually stopped going to church, making the excuse for myself that Sunday was the only day I had off from both school and work. After being away for several months, it seemed to me that it would be embarrassing to go back — so I never did.

In fact, I never went back to any church the entire four years, until this spring. A good friend invited me to visit his church, and I felt a distinct leading to go, so I went. It was a huge blessing to be back where I knew I should be.

I’ve been back a few times, and it’s nice to feel welcomed. And it was my friend’s invitation that led me back in the first place.

Whatever your reason for leaving church — or not going in the first place — this Sunday is just as good a time as any to go back. I guarantee you won’t be sorry.