Going to church EVERY Sunday?

Regular Daily Episcopalian essayist, Ellen Painter Dollar, has written an article at Her.meneutics blog exploring the question of occasionally skipping church:

Confessions of a Church-Skipping Mom

Is it better to attend church burnt out and stressed, or occasionally stay home but miss corporate worship?

By Ellen Painter Dollar posted at “Her.meneutics” blog

A few years ago, such a lax attitude toward church attendance was unthinkable to me. We were die-hard churchgoers, in the pews every Sunday barring illness or vacation. But being a die-hard means that you are given jobs, and when you do those jobs well, you are given more jobs. Sunday worship ceased to be a time of renewal; it was work. When we joined our current parish two years ago, I was determined to be more deliberate and cautious about volunteering. Being less involved makes Sunday mornings more enjoyable, but it also makes it easier to skip Sunday services altogether because we have fewer responsibilities.

Our kids are thrilled when we take a Sunday off. But our newly relaxed attitude toward church attendance raises important questions: Are we modeling a nebulous spirituality, teaching our kids to pick and choose from among religious practices while rejecting anything that requires real commitment? Is it possible to engage in life-giving, sacrificial commitment without falling into energy-draining, resentment-breeding burnout? Perhaps most important: How do I instill faith in my children, and how important is church attendance in that endeavor?

A living faith requires both communal obligations and private disciplines. We as a family pray before dinner, read Bible stories, and teach the religious meaning of major holidays with traditions such as Advent candles and Lenten mite boxes. When one of my kids is struggling with disappointment or fear, I offer prayer as the best thing to do when you don’t know what else to do.

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