C.S. Lewis was once asked, ‘Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?’
His answer was as follows:
‘That’s a question which I cannot answer. My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target. It is extraordinary how inconvenient to your family it becomes for you to get up early to go to Church. It doesn’t matter so much if you get up early for anything else, but if you get up early to go to Church it’s very selfish of you and you upset the house.
If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to Church.
I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off.
I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.”
I deny, with some warmth, the charge of being “choosy about services.” My whole point was that any form will do me if only I’m given time to get used to it. The idea of allowing myself to be put off by mere inadequacy–an ugly church, a gawky server, a badly turned-out celebrant–is horrible. On the contrary, it constantly surprises me how little these things matter, as if:
“Never anything can be amiss, when simpleness and duty tender it.”