This is a tough blog to write. Not because I’m about to be very honest. Being honest is practically my personal calling card.
Nope…that’s not the reason.
The reason it’s tough to write is because a lot of my friends are Christians. And in my opinion there is no group tougher to be vulnerable and honest in front of than Christians.
How sad a statement is that????
I don’t like church. I don’t like the business of church…money counting, pastor paying, decisions made in a vacuum of “leadership” where egos run rampant. I don’t like the show of church…large stages, musical numbers, greeters in the foyer who’s job it is to make me feel like I have a “friend”. I don’t like the message of church…have some kids and we’ll serve you, give some money and we’ll serve you, buy our watered down message and we’ll let you belong here. I don’t like the structure of church…people in power over people not in power, men over women, teenagers as the most served demographic in order to keep their parents sucked in.
I can’t imagine Jesus, Peter, Paul, John sitting quietly and serenely in this environment and walking away saying “Oh my that was uplifting.” I try to envision Jesus with hands lifted high (or not so high if he is like some Christians who are embarrassed by this sort of behavior) rocking out to some Journey song that we’ve turned into “the special”. I just can’t imagine that he’d be on board with one-verse sermonizing where preachers teach around a verse or two while using their families as object lessons and pretending like that is some form of transparency because they are sharing how they or their wife or their little PK kids are “just like the rest of you.”
As a kid I loved church. Well…let me revise that. I loved the people at church. There were old people who loved me and would ask me to come sit with them. There were other kids to play with. There were other families that we would sometimes eat lunch or dinner with. So I guess even then I was into the Church much more than I was into church.
So here I am…trying to build a life in a new city. For the first 35 years of my life I’ve always made my friends by going to church. It’s like a ready made relationship factory because “We are alike in our lack of alikeness with the rest of them” (pointing out at the world).
Herein lies the problem…I actually like “THEM”. I admire some of the THEM. I respect many of THEM. I appreciate the honestly and lack of show that THEY live out.
And before you make excuses for me by saying “Oh well she has been burned and just needs some time for healing.” NOPE. Well…yes…I’ve been burned. But I’ve been burned in my family and yet I go back for more of that on a regular basis. I’ve been burned at work and I still go to work every morning. I’ve been burned by the economy and still buy stuff at the store. So sure..church has “burned” me but that’s not the reason I can’t work up any interest in finding a new church.
The real reason is that I prefer relationship to ritual. I prefer honestly to facade. I prefer dirty faces to bright shiny faces all in their places. I prefer actual difficult conversation to saying “no no, it’s fine.” I prefer the use of the gifts given to all of us by God to someone telling me my place.
What I do love is The Church. The one Jesus started. Branches hanging off the vine. Thumbs, livers, and butts on the body of Christ (everyone wants to be hands, feet, and mouths). The one that is full of these same people but without their structures, security, and shine. I love people who discuss doubts, difficulties, and share joys and blessings. I love people who ask the difficult questions…the ones most of us keep in our head for fear of screwing up the plan or causing a ruffle at church. I love The Church that doesn’t sit in rows staring at the back of each others heads, watching only the male half do something, and then shake hands and walk to cars to go back to lives that don’t add up with what was just done for an hour. I love The Church who drinks a cup of coffee, has some lunch, meets for a beer and shares life and living and death and dying. I love The Church…and so does the Groom.
Now…to just find that again in this new place.