It’s very easy to understand why someone would take a sabbatical, so to speak, from church attendance when there’s spiritual abuse. However, what about situations without abuse where you just feel the need to take some time off? Are you being wrong or selfish to do so?
First, let’s look at just a few situations that may arise where people may decide to take a break from church:
- A family member’s illness or similar situation – This should go without saying, but many people still feel like they’re doing something wrong by tending to a loved one in need. As a very good clergy friend once told a family member handling nursery duty – her place was with her loved one and the church could adjust until things improved.
- Job circumstances – It would be nice to think that everyone would have Sundays off, but I know from experience this is not something to count on unless you only work Mondays through Fridays. Since most of us do have to work, it is unreasonable to feel guilty because you sometimes need to work Sundays.
- Sometimes, especially in a smaller congregation, people can get too burned out with volunteerism. I’ve seen this happen to others in a way that the burnout literally snuck up on them, especially where the laity sometimes have to assume a worship/liturgical leadership role in the absence of clergy. Taking some time off services or scaling back volunteering can provide you with the “recharge” you need.
Another situation that might occur is feeling as though your gifts and talents aren’t being put to full use in your present setting. It should never be assumed that just because someone is a member of Demographic Group X they are a perfect fit for Ministry Y. Taking some time off can be a good way to decide whether you want to continue on your present path or not.
Based on what I’ve heard from others who have switched congregations, here are a few things to consider:
- Make sure you’ve visited any congregations under consideration several times before making a final choice, including special events, ordinary Sundays and low attendance times, like school break
- Don’t commit to getting involved with ministries or joining right away – such decisions made in haste may not be good ones
- Avoid getting caught up in emotion and jumping right in too fast just because the service inspires you in some way – a worship experience should appeal to more than your emotional side
Just a few thoughts for everyone to consider…