If you’ve been a Christian for any period of time at all, you may have noticed that the more time you spend in church, the harder it is to fit in and feel comfortable with non-believers or to really enjoy worldly activities, relationships, speech, movies, habits, etc.
So how on earth are you going to make sure that your church attendance doesn’t end up damaging your friendship with the world? How can you make sure that you’ll never seem weird, different, and overly religious to friends, relatives, and coworkers? I mean, you don’t want to be the guy who can stop the telling of a dirty joke just by walking into the room, do you? Well friends, as he has been since the beginning, the deceiver is here to help. He’s prepared this handy list of his top ten tips for minimizing the sanctifying effects of Church attendance. Simply by following these easy-to-do directions you can proudly join the legions of American Christians who have already mastered the fine art of remaining babes in the faith who show little or no sign of growth in what Peter called, “the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)!
1) Try to stay up as late as possible the night before.
If possible, try to drink too much as well. Nothing says “not ready for worship” like a hangover.
2) Do nothing to prepare your heart to worship.
Make sure that your heart is drenched in worldliness all week long so that church will be an irritating culture shock. Do not pray in advance or read your bible. Make absolutely certain you do not pray for the pastor or those leading in worship. Be sure to blame the pastor and the church when you don’t “get anything out of the worship service”. Repeat this process until you actually leave the church. Remember, constant church hopping is one of the most effective means of not growing in grace.
3) Arrive at church late and then leave church as quickly as you can.
Make sure you do not prepare to go to worship the day before by buying gas, planning breakfast, setting the alarm, choosing your clothes, shining your shoes and so on, as this will ensure that you also arrive frazzled and frustrated. You should also give in to the urge to argue with your spouse and shout at your children in the car. Do everything you can to stay angry at your family during the service.
4) Schedule something you really want to do immediately after church.
If you can, try to make sure that you can only get there on time if the service ends RIGHT. ON. TIME. Think about the thing you want to do during the service, become impatient and frustrated if the sermon goes on longer than you expected. Jingle your keys, fidget, and do everything you can to indicate its time for the service to end. If all else fails, pinch the baby and pretend to be taking her out of the service. Motion to your family to follow you. You may need to wake them up first if the baby hasn’t already done so.
5) Try to Participate as little as you possibly can during the service.
Don’t sing the hymns. Think about other things or doze off during the corporate prayer. Allow your mind to wander to and fro throughout the earth during the sermon. Watch people coming in and out of the service. Make amusing faces at mischievous children, try to start a game of peekaboo with one of them. Plan out your week in detail. Fantasize about having an affair with other members of the congregation. Worry about whether you fed the dog, turned off the stove, locked up the house and set the alarm.
6) Get angry at perceived slights and stay angry for the rest of the service, or the rest of the week if possible.
After all, you TOLD the pastor about Aunt Mabel’s operation last week and he didn’t mention her in the announcements or the congregational prayer, and that what’s-her-name, you know she was giving you the stink-eye about your skirt. And that what’s-his-name should know that sitting by himself right in the middle of the row YOUR family sits in is rude and inconsiderate.
Make sure to nurture the belief that everyone else at your church spends all their time judging you and talking about you behind your back. Interpret every gesture, comment, look, or movement as evidence supporting this theory. Did I say theory? I meant FACT, of course. Assume that negative sermon illustrations are either about you or are aimed AT you. Assume that encouraging sermon illustrations are actually designed to make you feel inferior.
7) Don’t take notes or discuss anything related to the sermon or Sunday school.
When you get home (or better yet, to the restaurant for brunch – see #8) make sure you DO NOT discuss the sermon or anything you heard. Do not read Christian books or articles related to the subjects that were discussed at church. This is critically important in making sure that you’ve forgotten the entire church experience by Monday, and only have a dim impression that it was boring and unintelligible. This will also help you to nod off entirely, and sleep is the sure key to a completely fruitless Lord’s Day.
8) Pack the rest of your Sunday full of diverting things.
Plan to go out to brunch, and then shopping, preferably with friends. Attend a league game or play in one. Go fishing or hunting, or take the boat out to the lake. If you’re really broke, do your work or your homework on that day. Plan to spend time in the office. The Lord’s day is also the best day for scheduling tiresome chores like cleaning out the garage, changing your oil or weeding the yard. Make sure you are listening to music and NOT sermons while you are working.
9) Make sure you ONLY attend the morning worship service.
Avoid evening worship, the midweek bible study and every other teaching or fellowship event. Remember, one of the main keys to making sure church is fruitless is making sure you are getting as little of it as possible. Prioritize “family time” and pretend that it is just as useful as time spent under the means of grace. Initially you may need some excuses for why you aren’t attending anything else, so here are some handy ones:
- It’s too hard on the children
- It’s too far away to drive twice
- You don’t really know anyone
- You have to get ready for X
- You’re too tired.
After a while though, you’ll find you don’t actually need the excuses any more.
10) Do everything you can to make sure the other members of the congregation remain strangers to you.
If you are following the other tips here ( and in particular #2, #4, and #9) that should be easy. If you find you must speak to people at church, only speak to the people you are already friends with. Make sure the conversation only consists of mindless small talk. Avoid spiritual subjects and make it very clear that, “how are you?” was a pleasantry meant to be answered with “fine” and not an actual inquiry. If someone else tries to engage you in a real conversation about something that matters, look at your watch repeatedly, keep your answers as curt as possible, and generally make it clear that this is an unwarranted intrusion into your personal space. Following these tips will make it easy for you to repeatedly complain you don’t have any real friends in the church, and make leaving as painless as possible. Make sure your NEXT church is huge enough that you can slip in and out without being noticed and where the pastoral staff will never have any idea who you are. It will also help if you select a church with theater seating and which keeps the area where the audience sits in the dark.
If the above top ten tips sound like too much effort, DON’T PANIC. Simply do everything you can to make sure you miss church entirely! Attend a “virtual church” online in your PJs, join a youth sports league that plays on Sunday, schedule a family outing on Sunday morning, take a job in a retail business or restaurant that requires you to work on Sunday, don’t set the alarm, or if you did, keep hitting snooze till its too late to go.
Remember, the deceiver wants you to know that just because you don’t actually worship God on the golf course doesn’t mean you couldn’t do it just as well as you do at church. I mean its not like the apostles and the giants of the Christian faith wasted their time with fellowship, preaching, prayer, the Lord’s supper and baptism. I’m sure if you looked hard enough into history you could probably find tons of zealous, knowledgeable, holy and productive Christians who never attended church. But who has time for that?