My Ink Dance

Discovering Extraordinary Grace in an Ordinary Life

Why You Need to Throw Away Your Church Time Card

I didn’t go to church yesterday. I was sick. Yet somehow, I still felt guilty. Felt like I was not living up to my end of this Christian living thing. Because clearly, God is there for those who go to church. Right?

Wrong. rose erkul

Maybe that didn’t come out right. He’s there for those that come to church. But He’s there for those that don’t go to church, too. I’ll even be so bold as to say He’s there for those that don’t even think He’s real. But that’s for another day.

God doesn’t go through a checklist of requirements before He listens to us. There’s no application process, no membership card, and no educational requirements. Those are things we put in place. But they’re not God.

I’ve just been punching my time card to verify my attendance. Thinking that somehow this is what makes me a good Christian.

Go to church….check.

Read my Bible….ummmm…..check?

Pray in all things….wait….well, I pray when I’m uncomfortable.

Feed the hungry…..do my kids count?

And the list goes on.

Somehow, we’ve taken the good things in the Bible and made them into a spiritual application to prove our worthiness. None of those things get us any closer to Jesus.

The only thing that gets us closer to Jesus is Jesus. Click To Tweet

Now, before you click that little x in the corner thinking I’m crazy, let’s remember what His word says:

eph 2-8

A gift. No strings. No applications. No work. A true gift.

No amount of church going, Bible reading, bent knees or do-good-ing will be enough to earn God's love because… Click To Tweet

Church, prayer, Bible, helping — these are all good things. They are good things that God gave us to encourage us in our faith, to build us up, to show others His love. Not a way of earning salvation.

There is a difference between going to a church and being part of a church.

There is a difference between talking at God and talking with God.

There is a difference between reading words on a page and receiving words.

There is a difference between handing out some food and filling someone up.

We are given a gift. Whatever we do after that is just the icing on the cake.


Sharing words with these great writers today!

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About Becky Hastings

I am emotional and logical. I am strong and dependent. I am a juxtaposition of head and heart exploring it all through writing. And in all my mixed-up ways I am loved. I'm here to tell you that you are, too. Just the way you are.

24 Replies

  1. “There is a difference between reading words on a page and receiving words.”
    Love this thought!

    1. Becky Hastings

      Thanks Kelly…I have to remind myself often of this truth!

  2. The only thing that gets us closer to Jesus is Jesus! Amen. Amen. Hallelujah. This feeling you describe is so prevalent- but how much better our relationship with Him is when we nix the score card, time tracking, and formalities to just love Him for Him as we are where we are. So freeing and sweet. Thanks for sharing, Becky!

    1. Becky Hastings

      I find this feeling running as an unspoken undercurrent in every church I’ve been in and with so many believers I know. I’m not sure how to help people see this (often I’m preaching to myself as I write). Maybe the more we are honest and vulernable with one another the more we are building rafts so people can climb on and take a rest.

  3. In 2007, our family left the church we had been members of. We had been regularly attending morning service and then staying long afterwards, fellowshiping with other members. We also had been going to evening service, and again, staying long afterwards fellowshiping. Eventually, we got to the place of feeling like Sunday was a harried, stressful day. So, we stopped going to church in the evening. After a few weeks of not attending Sunday evening, we received a visit from our pastors. They wanted to know why we weren’t attending Sunday evening anymore, and we said we needed the rest and the family time. Their response, “That’s wrong. You should be at church every time the doors are open. Your commitment to God is evidenced by your church attendance.”

    Yes, I’m serious. They really said that. (And mind you, we were still attending sunday morning). We determined that we needed to find another church.

    So, though, church-going isn’t what makes us right with God, sadly, there are many believers who think it is.

    1. Becky Hastings

      Oh Patti, I am so sorry for what your family experienced. The things we do to one another in the name of Jesus are often our misguided attempts at holiness, and it can be heartbreaking—even spirit breaking.

      I think your family did the right thing (for what it’s worth), and I applaud you for following your spirit and your family’s needs. That can be difficult, especially the more involved you are.

      I sincerely hope you have found a place that is right for your family, and that you know that God is honored by your love for Him and your family. Maybe our stories can be the things that free people from this mindset. Keep sharing your story and following Jesus!

  4. Great reminder that salvation is a gift and it’s all about grace. It can be easy to accept that in the first place but then fall into thinking that it’s all about what we do and we have to earn it somehow.

    1. Becky Hastings

      Isn’t it funny how easily we grasp grace early in our relationship with Jesus, but then we lose track of that very lifeline? I’m so grateful that even when I let go that lifeline of grace is still there to grab onto!

  5. “There is a difference between handing out some food and filling someone up.”
    I love this!

    1. Becky Hastings

      Thanks Sarah!

  6. Awesome article, Becky! Keep up the great work. I’m sharing with my clients.

    1. Becky Hastings

      I hope these words bring freedom and grace for people! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great post! One I feel will help many people who feel guilty when they miss a service.

    After 20 plus years of attending and being involved in ministry, my husband and I left the church. It was becoming a place of rules and regulations and I began a journey of discovering what Jesus wanted me to do instead of what the tradition and religion of man wanted me to do. It was an eye opening process and one that I know has molded me into a more gracious follower of Christ.

    I am not knocking church, it has been a very important part of raising my children and molding me into the woman I am today. But I began to feel shackled and bound by what was required of me by man.

    But today, I feel that as my steps are still directed by God, I am more involved in meeting and ministering to people who do not go near a church. I have a freedom in being me, accepting people for who they are and loving them as Christ loves me.

    No matter where we worship, God is in the midst.

    Blessings to you as you encourage others!

    1. Becky Hastings

      Kathi, Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story. I find it is a challenging line to walk — finding ways to serve and follow and love the church (because the Church is a good thing — it’s us humans that get it mixed up). It is great to hear how you have found ways to do that in your life and model that for your kids 🙂

  8. I agree! For some reason Christians like to have a checklist of things we should all be doing to be real Christians. And I don’t think God does the same. He looks at our hearts and meets us right where we are!

    1. Becky Hastings

      YES!!! The heart is where it’s at!

  9. What a wonderful reminder that grace is a gift and not something we earn! By the way, I love the name of your blog.

    1. Becky Hastings

      Thanks Kelly! I’m glad you’re here!

  10. No time cards for this girl, either! Great encouraging words that we don’t have to earn our salvation! Blessings!

    1. Becky Hastings

      Woo hoo! It was a hard habit to break (and one that I still struggle with mentally sometimes) But it’s all grace my friend!

  11. Great post! This seems to be my lesson from God this week.

    I am a mental checklist person, not just in things spiritual, but in all things. I am a results oriented person.

    But unfortunately, when I don’t read my Bible or haven’t prayed on a given day, I feel guilty. I read a post recently where the writer stated that it is more important to “make the time” for God, not “do the time” at a prescribed time and amount, checking off done, done. A personal relationship with Jesus is wanting to spend time with Him, not feeling compelled to, which these “checklists” tend to do.

    I read a freeing verse yesterday that reminded me that I’m not a perfect Christian, only Christ is perfect. I found the following verse so freeing,

    “For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Philippinas 2:13.

    The Lord moves in us as He continually draws us closer to Him.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Becky Hastings

      Such great reminders today! It can be such a struggle for me sometimes when I don’t feel the “wanting” and I end up doing it to “do the time”. I’m so glad that it is all grace!

  12. Great post, Becky! I am enjoying your writing! Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth. PS…we will be missing church next Sunday;) Family time!

    1. Becky Hastings

      Enjoy your family time! I really believe God loves seeing us value our families with our time and presence! (And thank you!)

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