18 June 2008


Not all religion is to be found in the church, any more than all knowledge is found in the classroom.

~Author Unknown~
I haven't been to my church since last December. (It is a non-denominational Christian church.) And the only reason I went then was because my youngest daughter wanted to see the Christmas play. She wasn't in it, which is one of the reasons I don't want to go back to my church. You see it's very cliquey there. I started going in 1999. I was a Catholic, searching for something more. I did find it there for a little while. But I soon came to see the hierarchy of those who attended. There are a lot of "popular" people in my church. A lot of them are musicians. It's very musical/theatrical. It seems to really raise on a pedestal those who are musicians. It also seems to favor those who have been around for a very long time. And those who seem to have the "fire of the Lord" in them. If you can't play music then you must be extremely Holy. If you are neither of those, you tend to stay on the fringes. But there is still one more chance for you if the other two fail. You just need to get in with the right crowd. You need to become friends with the popular people. I had enough of that stuff in high school.

So I finally got to the point where I just didn't want to have to deal with the theatrics and the cliques on Sunday morning. It was distracting to me, and it was beginning to affect my children. See, the children of the favored ones were also cliquey. So my daughters got overlooked for things like Christmas plays and VBS skits. My oldest didn't have any friends in her junior high group. They didn't want to go anymore, and I couldn't blame them. I didn't want to go anymore either. So I haven't and neither have they. My DH still goes because he is a musician and he likes to play with the band. So now he goes by himself.

Isn't it a shame that I have to feel this way about a Christian church? Why is it that Christians can act so un-Christian towards other Christians?

I'm not sure how I should proceed from here. If the Catholics weren't so Catholic, I think I would like to go back there. I miss the reverence of a Catholic church. But I don't agree with a lot of their beliefs, and I don't want to have to tell my children what they should believe and what they should discard. But that is a big part of the problem. I have disagreements with a lot of what many church's practice. So what to do? Well for now, I do nothing. I still discuss the bible and the Lord with my girls. They have quite a bit of biblical knowledge, in their heads and in their hearts. So they appear to me to be on the right path. It would be nice to find a church body where I feel we'd fit, and my girls could be part of a youth community. But I just can't see how to make that happen.

Which bring me back to the bible. Are we really called to "join a church"? Or are we called to be part of the body of believers? I am still a believer, so doesn't that still make me part of the body? I know it is God's will that we join together with others. Can I not just join together with my family for a while? I think so, which is why I haven't been to church since last December. It's funny how much less stress I feel not going to church. And in a funny way I feel closer to God not going. I often was at odds with things preached and practiced in my church, so how can one feel close to the Lord when one doesn't even agree with what is being taught?

I know what I beleive and I know what I don't believe. I know I am a Christian and I know I am saved. As far as going back to a church, I think I'll just wander here in the desert for a while.

Everyday people are straying away from the church and going back to God.

~Lennie Bruce, The Essential Lennie Bruce, 1972~


Deanna said...

If you want a place for your girls, try a small, mainline denomination church where they are struggling to maintain a membership. They will be so delighted to have new people, and especially kids, that you will feel very welcome and included. At least that's the case at our church.

For a variety of reasons, we've struggled with a slowly dwindling membership over the past 10 years. When a new family shows up, we have to be careful not to overwhelm them with too much attention. (g)

As for the concern about whether you agree with the doctrine at a particular church, that's a tricky issue. In some ways it would certainly be nice to be with like-minded people. However, as a family, we came to the conclusion that worshiping with people who hold a variety of beliefs on certain issues challenged us to really think about what we believe instead of just absorbing the beliefs of those around you.

We enjoy a reverent service that allows us to worship in a way that is comfortable for us (that's a very personal thing and not everyone likes the same style). The sermons our pastor preaches have so far not been in disagreement with our personal beliefs. In adult Sunday School classes we have often had very civilized discussions concerning issues in which we don't all agree but I find those interesting and challenging (in a good way).

I like being in a place where we are all comfortable with our differences and there is no pressure to conform. We are the only family that homeschooled and a huge number of our members are public school teachers or university professors. You'd think we might have gotten some flack over our decision but not a single person ever gave us a hard time about it. "Live and let live" seems to be the motto and that works for me.

All that to say that while I certainly don't believe it is essential to attend an actual church on a regular basis, if you do desire that sort of fellowship, it is possible to find a place of peace, comfort, friendship and support. Just look outside the box.

Stephanie said...

I'm with you, after 10 years in the Church of Christ, I haven't attended in over 3 years now. I do not believe that I have to go to a building every week and play perfect Stephanie anymore. Oh I was so judgmental too. I am just living and learning and praying and following God.
You are on Unschooling God Journey, right?
I just got The Shack book but I haven't read it yet.

Growing up I attended many different churches with friends and my dad's family is Catholic, I never believed Catholic doctrine.

It's just another institution that I don't want any part of. The body of Christ, the real church is the people who believe.