I grew up going to church every week, usually 2-3 times a week. That's what you were suppose to do. I have lots of great memories of my church growing up. All of my friends went and there was Wednesday night youth events, camps and disciple now weekends. I learned a lot about faith , the bible and God. I learned how to navigate my way around the bible and was told how much God loved me. I knew all of the words to worship songs and asked Jesus to be apart of my life.
I also learned that there was a long list of dos and don'ts and if you stayed away from the "don'ts" then you wouldn't be judged and you were definitely going to heaven. Unfortunately for me, I chose the don'ts more than the dos so I was pretty much looked down upon and talked about by the people that were suppose to be loving on me. So, as soon as I graduated high school I just quit going to church. I mean, the judgy looks I'd get the morning after I'd been out all night drinking and hanging out with all those "sinners" on Saturday night just wasn't worth anything that I may have gotten from a sermon.
The thing about the Holy Spirit is that when you are a believer, He constantly tugs at your soul and will not let you run too far away from him. Because of that, when the Hubby and I got married, I decided that we needed to find a church. A church that we could both agree on and a church that would love us for who we were and fill us with what we needed starting our lives together. We tried several. The Hubby wanted a mega, non denominational church and I wanted a smaller church that had lots of newly marrieds that we could befriend and do life with. We ended up at a mega Baptist church that had everything to offer. We loved it there. We made friends, we enjoyed going and serving and growing in our faith. It restored my faith in the church and it's people. Not because the church was just that awesome, but because I changed my attitude towards church.
You see, I decided one day that I was going to study the bible on my own. Without any preconceived notions that had been imbedded into my head, I was going to study the bible all by myself and come to my own conclusions about church and faith and who God really was. I realized through that that I could not look to a pastor or worship leader or Sunday school teacher to determine my faith or to fix my broken relationship with God, that was up to me. I also realized the church is full of jacked up hypocrites. I know that because I am one of them. Who am I to judge the screwed up people inside the church when I'm one of those screwed up people? I'm a sinner and I need Jesus and so does every one else that chooses to step foot through a church door. People nowadays don't go to church because that's what they are suppose to do, they go to church because they are yearning for something that the church can offer.
After 10 years at that church, we felt like the Lord was leading us somewhere else. We prayed about it and visited other churches in our town. We kept going back to one in particular that was very different than what we were use to. It's small and very laid back. There's nothing fancy about it, in fact, we meet in a barn. It's the kind of church where everybody knows everybody. The teachings are solid, the music is raw and soothing. The people love on each other and are all there to better their walk with Christ. It's refreshing.
I most certainly do not think that you have to go to church every Sunday to have a personal relationship with God. There are missionaries all over this world that never get the opportunity to ever step foot in a church. At the end of the day, God knows your heart and knows where you stand with Him. However, as much as the people inside the church are jacked up, they are jacked up together and are all working on their jackedupness. Yeah, I just made that a word. I truly believe that there's a church out there for everyone, you just have to find the right fit for you. 10 years ago, it was a huge mega church with all the bells and whistles. Now, it's a tiny little Baptist church that meets in a barn. No matter where you go, there will be things that you don't like. Why? Because there's no perfect church. But there is a perfect God and everyone needs him. The churches job is to love on people and help lift each other up to bring each other closer to Him. It's job is to hold you accountable so that you can constantly grow in your faith and quit falling victim to the same sins that have a hold on to you. It's job is to surround you with people that are jacked up like you, so that you can help each other be more like Christ and less jacked up.
There are lots of churches that offer all of these things and more. Find one. Keep going from one to the next to the next until you find one that works for you. Then once you're there, jump in. Build relationships with fellow believers, serve with your God given talents, give to further the kingdom and you will be so much better for it. You will find your purpose. My thoughts on church are that it's pretty awesome and you should probably try it.