I remember when we (my dad, brothers, and I...my mom and grandmother didn't go) started attending church after moving to the city were I now live. I was 10 1/2 (and yes, the 1/2 was very important at the time), and in grade 6. I was still quite shy, so I didn't talk to many people at the time.
One of the little old ladies - or at least she seemed that way to me at 10 1/2 - came over to me, bent down so she was at my level, smiled sweetly at me and asked "Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?"
Gulp! I'd better tell her 'yes' or I won't be allowed to come back here. I like it here, and I don't want them to kick me out of church because I haven't asked Jesus into my heart! I thought. My answer came quickly, and I told her, yes.
I lied. In church. Guilt immediately overwhelmed me and I quickly prayed a silent prayer: "Jesus please come into my heart!" I only said it so that I wouldn't feel guilty, and that it might somehow erase this whole situation as being a lie. And, I don't think I really meant it. Major fail on my part!
When I began attending my current church (I stopped going to the other one at 12 years old, and didn't go back to church until I was almost 31), I was afraid to go. I was afraid to sit down in the pew, to talk to others, to tell them about myself. I was afraid that if they knew what I was like, what I had done, etc., they would kick me out and not let me attend (even though I really wanted to be there). I would look around the sanctuary at the people sitting in the pews and think they were near perfect, that there was no way they sinned, no way they are as bad of a person as I was. And I once again thought that I would get asked to leave because I wasn't perfect like they were.
Really though, where do we get those thoughts from? I'm certain it's the enemy trying to keep us away from God! The thought that you have to be perfect to attend church is a lie from the devil.
Now that I'm older (and hopefully a little wiser) I know that I wouldn't have gotten kicked out of church. They wouldn't have stopped me from attending. In all honesty, it's where I belong. The church is full of sinners, full of people who have said and done horrible things - some even more horrible than anything I have done in my life. Church is were I belong, and it's where you belong...no matter what you've said or done in your life.
If you are reading this and have shied away from going to church because you think you aren't good enough, or you've done some pretty horrible things in your past, please don't stay away. Everyone has been through some sort of circumstance that makes them less than "perfect". In fact, no one is perfect - even people who go to church!
Remember, Jesus is the only one who is perfect, and it is through Him that we find forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.
Remember, you don't have to be perfect to go to church. You don't even have to have accepted Jesus into your heart in order to attend, so please don't let those thoughts pervent you from attending. Give it a try; go to church - you will be (or should be) accepted with open and loving arms.