I've been in church, or some version of it, for as far back as I can remember, but that didn't make me a believer; it made me a churchgoer.
But at some point during my college years, I even stopped being a churchgoer. I was away from the watchful eye of my parents, who'd always made church mandatory, and I'd seen so many things from other "churchgoers" that I started thinking there might not be any real Christians. So college was my chance to leave it all behind.
Then I met my future wife.
Once we started dating, she started inviting me to go with her to church.
I always declined, and she'd go without me.
The pattern continued even after we got married.
She didn't pressure me or try to make me go, but she never failed to invite me. And she never let my rejection deter her.
I don't remember when or how that first time came about.
Maybe I noticed how she looked in her Sunday best and decided she needed a chaperone to keep the vultures away.
Maybe I didn't want her to have that as ammunition against me if we ever argued about it. "At least I go to church," she could say.
Most likely it was a matter of realizing that every time she invited me, I had to consciously make the decision to reject God again and again.
We started attending the church where I grew up. The new pastor was a Bible-teaching minister who opened my eyes to the word of God for the first time. How I finally gave my life to Christ is another story, but I'm glad I did.
I Corinthians 7 says if a believer is married to an unbeliever, the believer doesn't have to seek a divorce. "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" (I Cor. 7:16)
All my life, I've seen halves of couples attending church.
Usually, it's the wife who realizes that she finds in the church service and with the church family the strength to hold things together at home.
She might even weep secretly over the disregard her husband has for the church, all the while praying that he comes around.
"But he's supposed to be a Christian," she might say. "Why won't he act like it?"
And on rare occasions, it's the husband who attends regularly without his wife.
He might try to explain to her that he's the man he is because of God, and that in church, where the Bible is taught, is where he finds direction.
The instructions from the Bible are clear. Don't nag your spouse. Don't chew them out or try to make them feel guilty.
It's not your words that will sway them.
It's your walk. God will do the rest.
Live the life that you have in Christ.
Keep going to church.
And keep inviting your spouse.
Trust me. It works.