The Too Busy Church and What it Has to Lose

Church is a very busy place. In addition to the regular Sunday services, many churches also have programs galore for all ages almost every day of the week. The programs alone are not a bad idea; having a Bible study for women or a special activity for teens can go a long way in building relationships both with God and each other. But in trying to be actively involved in church, many families find themselves pulled in a million directions all at once. You worship together as a family on Sunday, mom is gone to a program for ladies on Tuesday, you’re back for prayer meeting on Wednesday, your teenager is dropped off for a youth activity on Thursday, and your 3rd grader is taken to a special program on Friday. Don’t forget the men’s prayer breakfast on Saturday and you’re back again on Sunday morning. And that’s just church stuff–not work, school, or any of the other activities a family participates in.

We have families running, running, running trying to keep up. But what are we keeping up with anyway? With each other? With the expectations of our fellow church members? With God and what we perceive he requires of us? With our own perfectionistic standards? What? Sometimes when we are trying our hardest to do everything right and make everyone happy, we lose sight of what actually matters most. We exchange the busyness of activities about God for quiet time actually spent talking to God. We trade programs intended to build up families for actual time with our families.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to bash church or any of the opportunities a church offers. I know each program offered is meant to help believers, not hinder them. I love my church family and love the time I get to spend with them. But I also see individuals and families are the building blocks of any church. If families grow too busy to spend time with God and each other, then the building blocks of a church can begin to crumble. A church family is only as strong and healthy as the individual families of which it’s comprised. If families are falling apart because they’re too busy to stop and listen to each other, to solve problems and grow together, what will become of the family of God as a whole?

With all the opportunities and distractions life offers, I only hope we can learn to keep our priorities straight. To love God first–and because we love him and desire to worship him together–to gather in church as the family of God. But in doing so, not to become bogged down and distracted by extra activities that pull us away from what should be our next priority–our families. If we want to honor Christ and worship him together, let’s honor him privately in our individual lives and homes by setting aside all that weighs us down and focus on all that brings us closer to him and the people who matter most. Let’s value our families and the time we spend with them, remembering if we lose our relationships with them, we have already hurt the family of God even if we do show up for church on Sunday.

27 thoughts on “The Too Busy Church and What it Has to Lose

  1. I agree. It’s not even just about being too busy with church to spend time with family. For me it’s the feeling of burn-out from too many programmes and events that need volunteers, and if you’re young, you’re supposed to have all this energy and free time (even if you’re married and working full time with a long commute). I had to withdraw from some of my service after my dad died last year (had PTSD, insomnia, depression etc) and have found the bustling, busy, business-like church overwhelming, which made me feel jaded. I started running a small house group though, which I prefer and find manageable. However, I have since last year caught myself comparing myself to other people my age (late 20s, early 30s) who are visibly doing lots at church, as I used to be one of those people and feel like I just turn up and take on a Sunday. But as my husband says, I’m in the place I’m in at the moment, and people have to understand that.

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  2. Pingback: Change our focus back on God as well as the family. « One Lifetime

  3. Pingback: Change our focus back on God as well as the family. « Transient Reflections

  4. Fantastic post! We sometimes get so busy getting involved in things that “please God” that we forget to ask Him what we should be doing. We don’t work for Him, but He works through us. Our busy church life is often no better than the Pharisees that Jesus confronted. They were busy too. Whatever we do we need to ask whose agenda is at play here – ours or God’s.
    Thanks for some great insights that more of us need.

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  5. Very wise, Kari! We can become so busy doing good things that we neglect the best. Time spent in the Word and prayer nurturing our personal relationship with God must be our first priority. Only then will we be well equipped to do the other things that he wants us to do.

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  6. This is a great post and sums up so much of what’s in my own mind about my church life at the moment! We are the same at our church, and there is so much to do and get involved in I’m in danger of losing sight of the reason of why I’m involved in the first place, and am getting jaded to the point of wanting to opt out for a while. That’s not a healthy position to be in! Your post has given me some things to think and pray about. Thank you.

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  7. how true is this! i think we need to decide if we are doing things to people please or out of guilt instead of from our heart, if we are doing it for the fist two reasons, it will drain us completely and not really be helpful to anyone…you are right too we have to have balance and boundaries.
    i went to a church for 10 years that caused me so much guilt, i wouldn’t know where to begin…the last two years i went to a church that just loved, you an accepted you where you were at, the difference was astounding…i am still recovering from the 10 year church…i will be for some time…i was so very hurt by the people i trusted and thought loved me…they really really hurt my Hubby too who was a new Christian coming in with an already bad view of Christianity…boy the damage they did….anyway i digress a little here, i think you opened something up in me!

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    • I think too many Christians have stories like yours. Guilt is never the right way to bring about change. At least you’re in a better church now! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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  8. Busyness does NOT equal Godliness! Easy to say, hard to live by. Take time for a real relationship with God and time to be connected to your family. Life is to short to waste with constant busyness, be it in church or sports, or TV or whatever. Family is a gift from God to be enjoyed and treasured not endured.

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  9. Busyness does NOT equal Godliness. Simple to say, often hard to live by, especially in the hyper-activity of many churches today. We’ve gotten so far away from just spending time alone with our God, reading our Bibles, taking time to contemplate what God really wants from us and enjoying the precious gift of family. Having our children in church non-stop will not make them more godly, it can even cause resentment and burn-out for anything having to do with the church if we are not careful. The same can be said of having ourselves or our children in ANY activity non-stop…sports, TV, video games, on and on…so many distractions, and oops suddenly there is conveniently no real time for a relationship with God or our family. Excellent article Kari.

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  10. Amen,Amen, Amen!!! Have long thought this and fully agree with all that was said in your post. Our families are our gift from God. We need to nurture, grow and support our families in the way our Lord intended when He gave them to us. A strong family core is a foundation for any healthy church. It is easy to become so involved in activities that we let things slide in our home life. Well said, great post. I was a church admin for years and although I loved it, I sometimes felt like I needed to just put a bed in one of the closets so that I could at least rest in between meetings. Thank you for these brave words. DAF

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  11. I agree that is easy to get too busy. Even doing good things. I also unfortunately see often that people pull back fron church attendance and serving- to watch TV, go on the computer, cart children in different directions to various sport activities or to work more hours. Not exactly quality family time or time building a relationship with God. When people get too busy, they seem to cut out church. I agree that church is not equal with serving and loving God, but it is or can be a big part.

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    • I do agree church needs to be a priority–especially the Sunday service. I just don’t want to get caught up in busy activitites just to please people when I should be focusing on other things that are starting to slide.

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  12. THANK YOU, Kari. This is profound and gives much to thoughtfully ponder. Thank you for writing on this topic. Balancing all of life is challenging for families. Glad you took this subject on straight on. Keeping our eyes focused directly on Him is key! bless you today

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