Why don’t we talk about this. Oh I know why, because it goes something like this.
Me: I don’t want to come to church here anymore. I can’t even imagine driving down the drive way to the church. I am not sure what is wrong, but I am miserable here.
Pastor: You must have sin in your heart, bitterness, or some idol that is keeping you from wanting to fellowship with us. Once we take care of that then you will be happy here again.
Me: No, I want to fellowship, just not here. I am a sinner, but there is no sin I have against you. This is just not the place for me.
I had a conversation like that. I stayed at that church a few more years. I spent that time examining myself, and tried to figure out if I did have sin that was keeping me from wanting to worship there. I eventually figured out that I just didn’t want to worship there. I no longer agreed with all the doctrines, with the philosophy of ministry, and though I wished them well I knew it was not where I was supposed to be.
And now what?
It has been two years since I left that church. It took me a year and a half to heal from leaving. It had been my church home for ten years. Now I attend a church close to my house. I am not a member, but I attend.
To be honest I don’t feel like attending most Sunday’s. I just feel like I need to work past my feelings and go. I believe in time that God will help me to grow and desire to be an active part of church there. I don’t know why I feel this way. I simply pray that God changes anything in my heart that needs changed so that I can become one of those people on Facebook that talks about how awesome their church is, or one of those people who puts a lawn sign up stating, “I love my church”.
Key: Keep on the Journey
I believe that God made church for us so that we have a place to fellowship with other believers, where we can worship, and be fed God’s Word.
If we are Christians I think it’s important to keep on the path of becoming more like Christ, and to do that we need to find a church that fits us, the best it can. It might take us time to find that church, but let’s be on the journey of finding it. Let’s not give up yet.
If we are home let’s be in God’s Word, in prayer, and listening to sermon podcasts. We need this fuel for our walk. Broken and sinful people make up the church. Let’s not confuse that with God. God is not broken and sinful. He is not church. He should be in the church, but God is not the compendium of man’s ceremonies, rituals, and sayings. He is the I Am.
We can know Him, and should know Him, apart from the brokenness of church. Church is broken. The church is full of messed up sinners who sin against each other. That’s exactly what it is supposed to be about. There should be leaders there who preach the gospel, and disciple people so they can in turn disciple others. Make no mistake about it. The church is a gathering of broken people which is obvious to all of us who struggle with the church.
The Church I Want to Go To
The church I want to go to doesn’t exist. I either get one extreme on a doctrine or another. No combination. I don’t want a big building and programs. I want to study God’s Word, be fed His Word, and then go live my life throughout the week. I want to be free to live out the great commission in my own life, not in a subscribed way.
I wish I could go to Paul’s church. At least I think I do. I imagine Paul didn’t mess around. I imagine his sermons cut to the chase. I imagine a group of believers gathering to hear Paul speak, praying for each other, and singing a hymn. Perhaps some of the members would eat together afterwards as part of a natural occurrence of being friends.
During the week Paul’s church would simply live there lives. They would be expected to pray, study the scriptures, and be in peoples lives. Loving and serving people. No big programs, no big building to pay for. Just a simple church filled with a small group of people who wanted love and serve God. I haven’t found this kind of church, but I hope I do.
Today I will go to church. I have yet to find joy in that, and I pray that God changes my heart so that I will again find joy in church membership. Perhaps that pastor was right. Perhaps I have sin, but perhaps it’s just a stage of my Christian journey, and perhaps it’s a stage of yours.
Let’s talk about it. I want to talk about it. I think we need to. I think many people are disillusioned with the church today, and we need the freedom to talk about it without looking like rebels. We need a place where we can ask hard questions, and get honest answers. Something tells me that the church is not the place where that will happen.
A messed up sinner in need of grace,