My mother was here with me for awhile during my convalescence and she was dismayed at my admission to not setting foot in a church for months. Her admonition was that “you know that is not right” and she proceeded to grill me on “giving up” on God. My reaction was annoyance because for me attending church and relationship with God is two different things (I know many Christians will disagree). Interestingly, she did not ask if I still prayed, read my bible etc; however, she asked me about giving tithe which I do faithfully by mail.
I do understand the importance of attending church to fellowship with like-minded people and receive spiritual strength from them. While all that is good, the problem is I feel no such thing at church. For many years, attending church makes me very uncomfortable and even more so now that I am single without family attending church with me. It is a place in which I feel no kinship but more like I am in a crowd wearing white while everyone else is wearing black. There is an uneasiness about being amongst those people and trying to find your place which usually takes years if you are a quiet person or having an extraordinatry set of outgoing social skills to speed up the process.
The reality is I hate going to church. I do not want to be around strangers (which they really are). I have spend years in a church and I did not know anything about the people there (including the ones that were my own age) and they did not know me. It all seemed somewhat fake. The greatest joy I experienced related to a church was a many years ago doing outreach ministry (not preaching or shoving the gospel down someone’s throat) but helping others or just going to an hospital for aged to sing or feeding the homeless etc.
My ideal church, in which I had a taste of during college, had an energy and a desire to praise God and serve others but I am yet to find it in the real world. So here is my list for my ideal church:
-Would have people in my age group that I am able to relate to
-A pastor with fresh ideas on making the gospel applicable to the struggles christians have today
-Have activities that engage the single or other special population in the church instead of stuffing us in the closet
-Not too large in which you get lost or too small in which each member does 10 different things for the church
-Good outreach activities that make a difference in the community and allows church members to become active for God. Most churches are so focused on bringing in more people to boost membership and overlooking the needs of others around them
-Feels more inviting and warm which Jesus intended and was a strong staple of the early Christian church. Having a sense of family
-Simple and less ritualistic, legalistic and organizational
-Open in which to entertain difficult questions without being wacked upside the head with a bible when someone is genuinely seeking guidance
One of the things I admired about Christ’s 3 year ministry was that he not only preached but he met people in their darkest hour to do things for them: healings etc. The churches have loss the ‘doing’ aspect of ministry. Jesus and his ministry was so simple yet highly effective. The problem is I am as excited to go to church as I am to sit in an all day conference for my job. I doubt I will find my ideal church so I have to wait until I am moved spiritually to set foot back in and enjoy attending a church.