RESPONSE 1: DAWN-MARIE CORNETT
I’m not sure there is anyone who hasn’t felt the desire to sleep in on a Sunday or curl up at home on a Wednesday evening. The temptation to stay home can be a strong one. But I’ve found that if I approach those feelings with a question of "Is it good for me to stay home?" instead of "Is it bad?" I get much clearer answers from God.
God is good, and God is All. So all is good. We get confused when we think we can make bad decisions. We try to see the bad and avoid it. But if there is only good, what are we trying to avoid? There’s just good, better, and best. We only get messed up when we ignore the good God has for us.
Basically any choice we are going to make in life, if started with a question of "Is it bad?" will generally only make us feel guilty and confused. Understanding if something is bad or not is really not going to help us want to do, or not do, that thing we are questioning. It gets us started on the wrong foot. However, if we start with asking God, "Is it good?" we’ll have a way to honestly, and without guilt, see the benefits of our possible choices.
When it comes to going to church or staying home, list the good of both. For example, staying home may feel safe, comforting, and even productive if you have a lot to do. Going to church will provide inspiration, fellowship, comfort, a feeling of safety, love, and an opportunity for you to be there for others that may need your smile, your presence, and maybe even a hug.
Now that you’ve listed the good you can get and give in both choices, pick the one that appeals to you most, that best represents who you are and what you hope to accomplish in that moment and in the future. Turning to God, who knows you best, will help you be very clear about your motives.
Mrs. Eddy says this really cool thing that may help when making choices. InMiscellaneous Writings, she wrote, "Success in life depends upon persistent effort, upon the improvement of moments more than upon any other one thing. A great amount of time is consumed in talking nothing, doing nothing, and indecision as to what one should do. If one would be successful in the future, let him make the most of the present" (p. 230). So, again, go back to your list of good, keeping in thought that you wish to "make the most of the present," and you’ll do well.
Infinite good, God, can only provide infinitely good choices. Get guilt out of the way. Don’t ask if going to church or staying home is bad. Just ask God where you are most needed and can do the most good, how you can make the most of the moment. I bet most of the time, that will be accomplished by going to church, but sometimes God may need you somewhere else. Trust God to have the full picture of the best for you and others, and then just follow where you are led.
RESPONSE 2: JOHN BIGGS
I remember feeling very much like this! Most of the time I did end up forcing myself to go, but I didn’t really engage with the service, and all that forcing never made it any easier. Sometimes, I’d just go spend that hour in the woods or in my hammock, and have a solitary hour of prayer. I knew this wasn’t maybe what I was supposed to be doing, but I didn’t see what I was going to gain from going to church "just because."
This all changed, however, when I watched a video of a round table chat with the Board of Directors, and one of them mentioned something about how going to church is such an opportunity to give. This changed everything for me. It was no longer a place I was ritually expected to go, in the hopes of receiving something. Now, instead of it seeming like a chore, church was a gathering where I was invited to give!
The beautiful thing is, when you are focused on what you can give, you naturally are available to see what you’re being given. This gave me a whole new impetus to go to church. Then, with all the focus on Church Alive, I began to see how church was so much broader than the physical locale and Sunday morning time. Since I was beginning to see how church was this beautiful invitation to give, it was only natural to realize that Sunday morning at 10 am, was simply another opportunity to keep living out the idea of church.
So, there’s no "yes" or "no" answer I can give to your question. It isn't about judging your attendance at church; it’s about getting a clearer sense for yourself of what church really means and offers. It’s about revamping our idea of Church to see the vibrancy and life inherent in it, and freeing our concept of church from any constraints of ritualism. You might enjoy trying attending church with a completely fresh view of why you’re going. Let your love for God and man impel you —in this, as in everything else.