Finding God Outside of Church

February 25, 2015

We leave early, before the sun rises up over the horizon. My husband drives my friends’ ten-year-old daughter and myself to the mountain trailhead. We put on our packs, filled with water and snacks, and head out on the trail. As we huff and puff up past the tree line, I begin to wonder if we should have come. My body is tired and breathing is heavy at this high of an altitude. But we decide to press on, encouraged by other hikers along the way.

And then it happens. We trek out above the tree line to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful views I have ever seen. It is incredible. We pause for a moment to breathe and to take it all in.

Kinsey and I enjoying the view above the treeline.
I am in awe of the beauty around me and I sense God in the wide-open space. I can’t believe this amazing creation. And once again, I feel closer to God than I have in awhile. Out in the great wide expanse, amongst trees and rocks, animals, and a wind that swirls cool air all around us, God is here. More so than any other space I’ve been in.

And I wonder if I’m not alone? 

I grew up attending church, loved Sunday services and the community I found there. But if I’m completely honest, I would have to admit that although I experienced God in those spaces, I’ve felt his presence much more outside of any building—staring at the enormity of his creation. I am in awe, amazed by just how astonishing he truly is.

Sometimes I question if we have put too much emphasis on "church" -- as in the building it is often represented by -- and not the people inside; if perhaps we've placed less importance on God’s desire to have a relationship with us versus our attendance at a Sunday morning or Wednesday night gathering.

Has our church attendance simply become another box to check off of our to-do list?

Maybe we've felt pressure to attend a service, as if that is the only place God can be found.

I know others who’ve had a hard time with “going to church,” yet still love God. Are they any less spiritual for not attending a service regularly?

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve had a hard time connecting with God within the confines of four walls labeled “the church.” Maybe you’ve been hurt, disillusioned, or ended up leaving with more questions than answers found.

Maybe the idea of “church” has left you wondering, is there more to a relationship with God than this?

I think there is. I believe that God will meet you, any time and any place. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. God loves to meet us in the middle of our mess. He meets us in the middle of our anger or grief, pain and joy. There is no need to dress up, put on a show, or perform for God.

Some of my favorite people from scripture were those who Jesus met along the way, people who were broken and hurting and never hid who they really were. Some never attended a church service, while many were scorned and turned away by the “religious people” of the day.

But Jesus? Jesus was different.

Kinsey and I at the top of Quandary Peak
Jesus was never put off by people’s messy lives. In fact, often that is where he would most often come to them -- right in the place of their everyday lives.

I believe he still likes to come into the space of our everyday lives.

Don’t give up on God just because you don’t “go to church” as often as you (or someone else) thinks you should.

His grace and love and hope extends far beyond any building. Even to the top of a mountain. Even to your office, the drive thru at Starbucks, or the parking lot at Target. Even to your living room.

Today we are once again linking up with the lovely Holley Gerth.


  1. I completely agree! Many times I have sensed a strong presence of God in the everyday event, sometimes even in the mundane. He can show up whenever He so chooses. I just hope I'm receptive when He does. Enjoy the scenery!

    1. Exactly Stephanie! So often I I can go throughout my day unaware, being receptive is key. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I agree, as well. We tend to put God in a box, but He is too big and too amazing for that. We need to be open to experience Him outside and beyond. Thank you for the encouragement. Beautiful picture.

  3. So true! I love our family hikes and the feeling of being surrounded by God!