I've attended church regularly all my life.
I'm so glad my mom and dad made the effort. And what an effort it undoubtedly was, getting three little ones dressed in their Sunday best, attempting to arrive on time. I just loved Sunday School, singing songs, learning about Jesus, making crafts and being with my friends. I remember sitting in the worship service right by my parents. Church was pretty formal then, and we were expected to sit still and be quiet. Once and awhile we found out just how serious Dad was about us behaving ourselves. He would give one of us "the look" and to the foyer we would go. This never ended good for us.
I learned all the hymns. I put my pennies in the offering plate. I listened. I bowed my head.
It takes guts to go to church regularly, especially if you attend a small congregation. Sometimes it lands you some obligations, like teaching Sunday School, ministry of music, leading prayer service, offering a testimony, being on a committee, taking up offering. You might get stretched.
With both of us knowing the benefits of being raised in church, when Vaughn and I started our family, we knew we wanted the same for our children. We were young parents and Jake was the first little one regularly attending in a long while (at that time), so we were determined to teach him to sit still and not distract the formal worship of others. I remember packing a church bag...a bag that was only used for church...filled with special toys, snacks to eat, cool pencils to write with. Because he was a good kid, and because Vaughn quickly obtained "the look", Jake, and later Parker, learned to sit still and appreciate the things that went on in the adult worship service.
I remember driving with a very young Jake. We had been singing songs, as we usually did in the car. He started singing... "Blessed and happy we shall be...listen to the Master's word...Soon the kingdom's coming, watch and see, the kingdom of the Lord"...I couldn't believe those grown-up lyrics were coming from my young son. But what pride I had as a mom, knowing he had absorbed those words by participating in our worship services. And at such an early age!
There has been so much to gain and so little to lose from going to church regularly with my family.
Now I'm not saying church is the only place you can find Jesus. Not saying that at all. But for me, that ritual of getting up and going, of being obligated to the congregation in so many ways, of soaking up the testimonies of others, of combining my faith with the faith of my friends and family...that ritual has made me strong.