I love church.
Okay, so let me be completely honest. As a pastor’s wife, I don’t always love church. There are times I want to run far, far away. But, as a believer, I really do love church. There is nothing that can replace the family of believers.
But there is a side to church interaction that breaks my heart. A story of damaged marriages. A story of destroyed marriages. A story that should never, ever be lived out in reality, but often is.
So, what is this story? It is one of men and women who allow themselves to be married to the church first and their spouses second. It is one God never intended.
It begins innocently enough. The church recruits volunteers to teach this Sunday school class or be involved in that program. Women’s events become commonplace, and men’s events ensure that men know they, too, have a place. Our youth get their own weekends, and even the children enjoy special events.
Everyone’s needs are met. Powerfully. But individually. And if taken too far, divisively.
It’s easy to get involved with the teaching and the volunteering, only to realize that we need to be refreshed as well. So, we set aside time for our ladies getaways. Then we feel guilty, so we encourage our husbands out the door to enjoy some time with the guys.
When all is said and done, no time remains for “us.”
That, my friends, is marriage to the church. It has nothing to do with spiritual growth and everything to do with busyness. And it has the capacity to destroy families. To destroy marriages. And, ultimately, to destroy the church.
So, what to do about it?
- Prayerfully seek balance for your family. Keep in mind that your balance will not look like mine – or anyone else’s. I have friends who are single. They need more ladies’ events than I do. Others are married with no children. It is a little easier for them to find uninterrupted times with their husbands than it is for a mom with little ones. I cannot base my schedule on theirs, and they cannot limit theirs to mine.
- Determine ways to be involved as a family. While there is nothing wrong with doing things individually, involvement as a family is more important. Can you not find anything available at your church for your whole family? Then suggest something! Be creative!
- Plan as a family. Whether it’s individual or family activities, make plans together. Consider one another. Give each other permission and encouragement to worship, serve, and fellowship both individually and jointly.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. You cannot do everything. This month alone, there are five optional activities I would love to be a part of, all scheduled within the span of three weeks. All five of them exclude the rest of my family. And none of them take the mandatory activities of my month into consideration. I have to say no, even if I don’t want to.
- Be willing to say yes. The balance to all of this is being careful not to only agree to things that involve your whole family. Sometimes you do need that time with the gals. Just remember balance – and that doesn’t mean equal time with family and without. It means paying attention.
Being an active part of the church body is not just important – it is vital. But it should never usurp your marriage or thwart your parenting. Be married to your spouse, not to your church family!