I am very late coming to this conversation.
During the 80's and 90's, I never missed a church meeting. Never. Not even for the births of my children, except the one who had the audicity to be born on a Sunday. Did not miss church meetings when it was -40 with snow covered roads. Did not miss service when our son developed a chronic illness, nor when my husband became disabled. I was caregiver, chauffeur, housekeeper, gardener, cook, and the church made sure I didn't neglect my duties and obligations to God by appointing me SS Superintendent, bulletin secretary, women's group president, building committee member, Bible study leader, church secretary, and music team member. I have filled every position of the church, from janitor to fill-in pastor. Babysitters were heavily frowned upon, so our children were taken to every meeting, and there was no childcare available. (It was considered unspiritual. Children must learn to sit still, even past their bedtimes.)
(An aside to this, one pastor said that if we were using our children as an excuse to avoid meetings and church, God would remove our "excuses." Subsequently, when my baby died, it was a heavy, heavy blow, and only added to the guilt, pressure, and incredible fear of God.)
At one point, I said to the chairman of the board, "I have been to 14 meetings in 17 days."
He said, "So?"
I decided on a different tact. "I don't believe the work of the church is necessarily the work of the Lord. My neighbours are going to hell, and I don't have time to care. My children are exhausted. I am exhausted."
He replied, "Jesus will never come second."
I said, "To what? Programs and busyness and activities that are designed to serve us and no one else?" No answer.
To make a long story short, I was hospitalised at one point. Depression and mental breakdown. But now I know it was burnout and exhaustion. Guilt. Discouragement.
I don't attend church now, in the sense of a certain building at a certain time. I believe when Jesus refers to church, he is referring to the universal body of believers, which meets anytime, anywhere. I have fellowship each and every day with a variety of people, both acquaintances and chance encounters. (Met a lady last night, a nun, at a gold panning championship, of all places, and we had an amazing time of learning, sharing, and prayer. "Where two or three are gathered in My name...")
I have mentors and friends that I weep and rejoice with. Regularly, irregularly, we have fellowship. We pray, instruct, rebuke, as the need may be. As far as tithing goes, I believe all my talents, time, and treasure belongs to Him. He directs the how and when and where of my every minute, every penny. My service to others does not come under scrutiny or approval from a church leader. I simply "do" as directed by the Holy Spirit. Without compulsion, without pressure, without guilt.
We do go to Cowboy Church, when available, often linked to cowboy events. We love the "come as you are" atmosphere. We live on a ranch with 3000 head of cattle. Between feeding, calving, and a thousand other messes that cows, calves, and bulls can get into, we can literally have "an ox in the ditch" on any given Sunday... or weekday.
Much of what has been said here resonates with me, from the mediocre Christian statement to being uncomfortable / exhausted by groups of people. I feel I have finally "come apart," as He did, and found Him.
"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel