Does that sentence resonate with you?
I could list all the reasons for which that statement holds true. And in doing so, I am sure your response would be something like::
“I can totally see why you would want to stop going to church!”
“Wow, that is messed up!”
And let me say – all of those responses would be absolutely warranted.
Church, like life, is messy.
I am a part of a club. It is a lot like Costco. We take pride in our membership. And if we had a card, you can be certain we would flash it every chance we get in order to flesh out other members with whom to share our stories.
Our club is the Church Shopper Club.
When we walk into that foyer on a Sunday morning (or Saturday night because, you know, we are cool like that), we have a long mental membership list we bring with us. And it contains variations of the following::
* does the band play the kind of music I like?
* does the congregation represent the kind of people that look like me, or are at the same stage of life as me, or ___?
* does the pastor talk about the kind of stuff that matters to me? Does the leadership look like I want it to look?
* does the church care about the issues I care about?
* do the people dress the way I want to dress for church?
* are the services at convenient times for me?
* will I get wounded again?
Do you get the idea?
And, if we make it through the whole service without heading to the nearest coffee house, we have a clear picture as to whether or not this specific church environment meets ALL of our criterion.
Because, really, one of the whole premises of the Church Shopping Club is that if it does not meet ALL of our criterion, then it is not the place for us.
This is how I have done church for a very, very long time.
The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians,
but a school for the education of imperfect ones.
-Henry Ward Beecher
What would happen if I found a church that I believed held fast to perhaps 75% of the core values/issues that matter to me? And then I was responsible to get involved in bringing that other 25% to fruition?
Or what if God used those around me in my Church community to teach me that the other 25% was not even what God wanted for me on my faith walk at all? Perhaps that other 25% is what I was there to learn?!? Perhaps that other 25% is the places where God wants to heal, restore, and transform me?
I have justifiable reasons to have a complicated relationship with the Church.
As do many, many others.
But this particular membership is just costing me too much. God never intended for me to walk my journey of faith by myself, which is what happens when one subscribes to such a membership – no church could possibly ever measure up for long.
It is time to dissolve my membership. It is time to admit that the more accurate name for this club is::
“My Pride is Allowing Me to Think I Am Smarter, Hipper, Cooler, More Relevant, More Aware, More Wounded than Anyone in the Pews” Club.
It is time to be a part of a faith community again.
It is time for me to realize that if I truly believe that I am a part of something bigger than myself, then I need to be in community with others that feel as I do!
It is time for me to realize that if I am desiring to be accepted as I am, with all my imperfections, then I need to be willing to offer others the same!
It is time to commit.
I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me and my family.