Some time ago, I decided I was done with church. Let me back up. I didn't really decide that I was done with church. To say that makes it sound like I had chosen never to attend church again. That's not what happened. Not really. A more accurate statement would be that I decided to take a break from church. I didn't need or want a break from my faith in God, I just needed a break from His people.
This decision came after years of disappointment and disillusionment. I won't go into detail about what those disappointments were, I've written them out before (and if you have questions, I welcome your comments or emails). Again, my disappointment wasn't in God, it was in His people. The people of the church are, at best, flawed. More often than not, they're hypocritical, prideful, selfish and self-serving. Basically, they're just people. I feel I have a right to say these things because, I too am a part of the church. I should probably type that with a capital C. I'm not a member of any particular church at the moment. However, being a believer in Christ makes me a part of the Church, which is the body of Christ.
I've missed church. I've missed being with a group of people who have similar beliefs. I've missed sharing my concerns and my questions about my faith with people who won't judge me for having those concerns or questions, simply because they probably have the same concerns and questions. I know it's hard to find that kind of group, but I have to believe they're out there.
See, I've had this picture in my head of what church should look like or be. I don't think it's too complex or elaborate. But that could be because it's in my head. So, to me, it's fairly simple. Church should be a body of individuals who come together to make the whole. They do this by loving each other unconditionally. They love the way Christ loved. They lead by example. They serve one another. They serve the community. They are unselfish and put others before themselves. They are unbiased and non-judgmental. They are warm and welcoming of all who enter their doors.
Maybe that is a bit complex. Those things, while they seem really nice, are difficult to find. Maybe not if you're looking for one of those qualities. But to find more than one in one place, or to find all of them... I'm not sure that's even possible.
So I've come to another decision. It's time to stop looking for all those things. Yeah, if I find them all, great. But I'm building up these high expectations of flawed and imperfect people. I know for a fact that I can't be all of those things at all times myself. What gives me the right to expect them of anyone else? It makes me just as hypocritical as the people I've been trying so desperately to avoid for the last three years.
I attended a church in Blacksburg today. It was actually my second visit in as many weeks. I like what I've seen and heard so far. The people seem friendly enough. I have no doubt that disappointment is lurking just under the surface, but I won't be the one who goes looking for it. I'm not going to place these people up on a pedestal and pretend that they're something they're not. I'm going into this remembering that they're flawed. They are fallen and broken, just like me.
I've decided that I shouldn't just sit back and let things happen. If I find myself in another situation like the situations I've experienced in the past, I won't run away like I did before. You can't effect change or fight against wrongdoing by sitting at home and ignoring the fact that it's Sunday morning.
It's been too long since I've been connected to a ministry that I can believe in. I've seen that kind of ministry through friends' churches. I've seen the way they're plugged in and making a difference in the lives of others. I want that. I want to become involved with people who are working to make a difference in the community and the world. But it's not about wanting to feel good about myself. I've come to realize that I'm only in this world for a little while. I want my time here to be worth something. It's not worth a whole lot when I find myself sitting at home, not only ignoring Sunday mornings, but ignoring the world that God has laid out before me.