WHAT IF I DON’T FEEL LIKE GOING TO CHURCH?
By Gunner Gundersen
Review copy courtesy of the Crossway Blog Review Program
That’s a great question! It represents a tension we probably all have felt. Who has not had a Saturday night when they had that realization, with a twinge of dread, “Ah man, we’ve got church tomorrow!” I mean, I serve as a pastor, and I still have those moments.
So what do you do when you find yourself there? What if you really don’t feel like going to church? What should you do if that feeling persists? How should you think about that feeling? How should you proceed?
In What If I Don’t Feel Like Going to Church?, Gunner Gundersen gently pleads with you to go anyway. He writes, “The most important time to be at church is when you don’t feel like it. So please, brothers and sisters, go” (Gundersen, 2020, p. 53). This is the heart of his book. And he spends its pages explaining the whys and hows of this plea.
Gundersen leads the reader through a careful thinking process to address this question. He begins with analyzing our feelings. He considers a number of factors that could be at the root of our hesitation. Then he moves to detail the meaning and significance of the church and why you would want to go even when, especially when, you’re not “feelin’ it.” He then proposes how you might go. Gundersen readily admits there are no perfect pastors or congregations, and so adjusting one’s expectations about why and how to go is helpful. He concludes his book by reiterating the blessings that come from going to church, despite the personal struggles and corporate imperfections.
At each of these turns, Gundersen succeeds in providing simple and clear explanations. One of my personal favorites is this clarification:
The New Testament uses three images for the church that emphasize our togetherness: a family of siblings, a body with parts, and a temple with stones. The church is “the household of God,” “the body of Christ,” and “a dwelling place for the Spirit,” built with “living stones” (1 Cor. 12:12–27; Eph. 2:21–22; 4:15–16; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:5). The implications are obvious: families live together, body parts work together, and temple stones fit together.
Some people use these truths to discount church attendance. “The church is a people, not a place,” they say. “It’s about being the church, not going to church.” But instead of lowering the bar, these images actually highlight the beauty and benefit of gathering with our fellow believers. (Gundersen, 2020, pp. 23-24)
If I were to issue one critique, it would be with the book’s layout. This book would benefit from having chapters. It is not a long book by any means, but it still could use points of reengagement. Chapters typically offer this kind of reengagement by giving additional introductions and hooks for each new topic. But this brief book is structured like one long chapter. If I were handing this book to someone who is at the point where I think they need this book, I would be concerned that they wouldn’t have the motivation to make it to the end as it is currently structured. But this critique is minor.
I do recommend this book. It is a thoughtful, heartfelt, and quick read. Gundersen writes clearly and assembles succinctly a helpful collection of thoughts and scriptures on an important topic. As such, I would recommend it as a discussion guide. It is the kind of book that would spark great conversations over coffee with a trusted friend or mentor. Knowing the crew at 9Marks, that’s probably what they had in mind all along with this series on church questions.
So, call a friend, grab a copy, head to your favorite coffee shop, and discover why you should go to church even when you don’t feel like it! This book will generate a fruitful discussion for you.
Gundersen, G. (2020). What If I don’t Feel Like Going to Church. Crossway.