When my kids were young, I insisted that we go to church every week. I wanted them to experience the familiarity of family outside of family, if that makes any sense. Going to church for my family is kind of an ordeal. My husband and I don’t quite see things exactly the same, so finding the right church was difficult. Actually, it was impossible, but we compromised and did out duty.
The first church we went to was one more to my liking. The people there were loving and caring for each other. There were a few that caused wrinkles on my forehead, but I believe I probably was one that did the same for them, so we’re even. You know the type of person, one who believes he/she is right and you must conform to their belief? I was that way, too, to a certain extent. (I am working very hard every day to not be that person anymore) My husband really disliked this church. He didn’t like the pastor, though I can’t really remember why, I think it was his personality, and he didn’t like the demonstrative service that he was definitely not used to. It wasn’t overly demonstrative, like dancing in the aisles but, people demonstrated for their love of God, raising their arms in worship and enjoying close fellowship in spirit.
When my husband decided he could no longer attend that church, I had to compromise. I wanted my family to attend church together as a unit, not separately. So, we found a much less active church to attend. The people were nice, but they were of the mindset of being a part of the “upper crust” of the community and so they looked upon others (like us) as being less than worthy. It wasn’t hard to join in, though, because in reality, the parishioners didn’t really care, unless you said or did something that completely offended them personally. We went to this church for about 5 years or so, until finally, the politics and bureaucracy just got the better of our patience. We left without notice and haven’t been back.
My kids were relieved. My daughter had begun experiencing the pain of being female in a small town and not in the popular group and my son was just happy to not have to be in the choir anymore. They never really developed a close relationship with God because of either church we attended and they certainly didn’t develop any close relationships with another person their age either. Not at church and they certainly haven’t missed it.
God gave me a though the other day that has really been stuck in my heart ever since that makes perfect sense. I don’t go to church to develop my relationship with God. I am supposed to be doing that every day of my life. I should be going to church to encourage believers like me and to receive encouragement from them. We live in a draining world and our energy is depleted to the point of extreme and the only way to build that energy back up is through daily Word focus and the fellowship of others who are going through the same types of challenges as us.
Unfortunately, the churches we have around here don’t really do that. It’s all about the program and who is teaching what, who is covering the nursery, who is recording the sermon, how much money did we receive this week and how many souls were saved? It’s all about numbers. I have yet to see a church whose greeters are focused on actually greeting new people instead of gathering around their buddies to chat while everyone shuffles in from the street. Moreover, I haven’t been to a church where any member would take the time and initiative to come over to me and say hello, my name is… It happened once and I had been going to this church for about 5 weeks in a row. 5 weeks it took for anyone to speak to me. Did I blend in too much? Does no one at this church really know the other members? Is this church just too big? Did I smell bad?
I miss church. I miss having friends who I can talk to. But I refuse to conform to the church that has conformed to the world. Where missions within the community is unheard of and actually loving the guy with the torn jeans, dread locks and tattoos are ridiculous ideas. The church that is judging everyone around it while secretly sinning as badly if not worse. I don’t miss that kind of church and I won’t go to it. So, if anyone knows of the kind of church with members who genuinely love other people, no matter if they’re gay, poor or drug addicts, let me know.