This is a guest post from our Rekindling Joy series – I hope you enjoy. Emily writes:
As a pastor’s wife, I know well what it’s like to be tired of church. Don’t get me wrong, much of my life is centered around church and I love church. In fact, my husband and I are in the early stages of planting a church, but there are still times when the rhythms of church life get downright overwhelming and exhausting.
Those times may be full of overwhelm and exhaustion, but they’re short on joy. With or without an abundance of joy to go around, Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to give up on gathering in worship with other believers.
So where does that leave you when you’re tired of other believers and when you’re tired of church in general? How do you rekindle your joy?
Finding Joy When You’re Tired of Church
Truthfully, there’s no foolproof way to rekindle joy when you’re tired of church since many factors create that kind of weariness. Even so, it helps to understand why you’re feeling weary from something that’s supposed to help you grow in faith and share God’s hope with others.
Here are some questions to help find the root of your tiredness:
- Are you serving more than you’re sitting at the feet of Jesus?
- Has someone hurt your feelings? It sounds petty, but denying the power of hurt feelings and a need for forgiveness can rob you of your joy before you know it.
- Are you lonely? It’s entirely possible to be in a room with two hundred people and feel alone. Trust me. I know.
- Are you upset with your church leaders? If so, why? Spend time honestly considering if you’re upset about something that is your personal preference or if you’re upset about something that’s preventing others from meeting Jesus.
Once you’ve assessed the root of your weariness, you can take the steps needed to find joy for the church. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you rekindle your joy for the gathering of God’s people and cultivate a greater love for your congregation.
1. It’s okay to rest for a season.
Have you ever heard the expression that says you can be so busy working for God that you have no time for Him? That’s a good representation of the weariness that often comes with church.
Because I’m able to do lots of things for my church, I sometimes try to do everything. When I try to do it all, it keeps me from serving where I’m called and letting others use their gifts. It also creates a joyless existence in the body of Christ and leads to burnout.
Jess Connolly shares this thought in Wild and Free, “I see broken women believing the only role for them is quiet service and the only pace is nonstop. They exhaust themselves as they serve out of obligation, not worship.”
If you’re tired from – and consequently tired of – church, one of the best things you can do is rest. In Luke 10, Jesus was quick to point out to Martha, the one doing it all out of obligation, that her sister Mary had chosen the good part. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus and resting in His presence.
Whether you need a break or you’re experiencing full-blown burnout, know that it’s okay to rest for a season. Talk to your ministry leaders and be honest about your need to rest and find joy again. I don’t know a pastor anywhere who would want you serving where you’re not called or pouring from an empty cup.
2. Be quick to extend grace and forgiveness.
Grace and perspective go a long way when dealing with difficult people in the church. If you’re tired of church because of specific people in your congregation, it usually helps to take a step back and look at things from their perspective.
The person irritating you has a story and things have happened along the way to make him who he is today. Also, when you remember that person is made in God’s image just as you are, it’s easier to extend the grace you expect to receive when you’re not at your best.
Once we view our difficult people as made in God’s image and people with hardships and difficulties in their lives, praying for them is next step along the way.
Praying may seem like the best first step, but your prayers mature when you pray with perspective and intention instead of a simple “Lord, help him.” You may find that those prayers not only change the person or situation, but that they also change you and your attitude toward the person.
The change in your heart allows you to extend grace when grace is hard to come by and it’s how you rekindle joy when you’re tired of people in your church.
3. Be what you need.
It’s easy to get tired of church when you find yourself longing for more – for more encouragement, for more community, for more passion. I’ve been there and I know there’s no joy in that kind of longing.
What God is showing me is that I’ll receive these things when I give them. It’s a sowing and reaping of joy.
I first read this in 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit:
“Giving others what we need is bravery and kindness mixed together. In my opinion it’s the greatest form of generosity… once you do, you’ll give everything you ever thought you needed away. Because you’ll see how giving others what you need is sowing seeds of life into this world.”
I also heard it in a recent Christmas sermon. That sermon was about the formula for joy and it pointed out that the best way to move past self-pity, fear, distractions, and what you’re not receiving is to be a giver.
It was about turning down the things that steal your joy to make room for the things that bring joy. More specifically, it was about how joy comes from giving what you need the most.
Then God took me to Luke 6:38, which is an interesting verse to consider since it’s often shared in messages about tithing. Since this verse follows the famous judge not, lest ye be judged verse, I think we have to consider that “give, and it will be given to you…” references giving what you need emotionally and spiritually as much as giving what you need financially. Maybe even more so.
So, if you find your current church lacking Titus 2 women, be one. If you find your church lacking community, create community by inviting some moms over for coffee. If you need encouragement, offer it every chance you get. Giving of yourself in that way will bring you unthinkable joy.
In closing, know that rekindling your joy when you’re tired of church can take lots of work, but it can be done and it’s worth the work.
It’s your turn now. Have you found yourself tired of church before? How did you get your joy back?
I have created a prinable pack with the verses found in this post. I hope you enjoy!
Emily Copeland is a Christ follower, minister’s wife, and homeschool mom of two. She offers help and hope for the homeschool journey at tablelifeblog.com. You can also find her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.