Most of you know I recently joined a mainstream church. Going there has been interesting at times… They can quote a verse and understand it completely differently than me, can use a Bible term I’ve thought I understood and mean something else by it, and sometimes have a very different perspective than I do on things. This week there’s been more of that…
Two weeks ago there was a business meeting. There are some major changes being considered, and a few that already took place (someone resigned a position). I missed the meeting, but two days ago in class the meeting was discussed. Emotionally. In front of everyone. And the door of the class wasn’t even shut or guarded! Eek! hee hee Seriously, though, at my former church people got in big trouble for much less than was said in class. People only disagreed with the pastor’s decisions in very private places with very close and trusted friends… if they even did that much. When I left, there were two women who called me begging me to come back… and begging me not to tell their husbands or the pastor that they’d even called me. They didn’t trust their husbands to “reach out to a backslider”. There were some things that were only discussed in a car or in the privacy of a member’s house, just between two people. And even then in hushed voices.
So now I’m in a church where people begin talking about something openly and emotionally. I don’t know any of the ones in that class, and wasn’t sure at all what was going on, whether to just leave or stay or speak up or hold my tongue or what to do. It scared me. Above that, this was one of those “I’ll have a special meeting after the meeting and if you need information come ask me” type things–which always meant extremely dangerous water- taboo topics and no room for disagreements or discussion- in my former church. There are a few people I trust, but only one really knows much about my background and could easily answer my questions. The pastor. I’m not allergic to him (I ran from any pastor for a long time after leaving.) so I asked.
He seemed very open and honest with me. He gave me some information about how the church operates, briefly explained what was discussed in the meeting, offered information about the doctrinal point that led to the resignation, and apologized if that was too much information.
I’m finding myself in a very nice place. Different language, different culture. New “foods” (Bible teachings), different clothes, whole different outlook. It’s weird sometimes. We live in the same country, in the same town, but I feel like I’m from a different planet. I like their culture. But sometimes something about it still surprises me. From now on I don’t think I’ll need to explain “due to past experiences”. I can just say, “well, I think I’m experiencing a little culture shock right now. Could you explain…?” And as I look back over the last year and a half, trying to find a church, I realize there may have been several times my hesitation or concerns might have been culture shock.
This is a good culture. It’s a healthy culture. Maybe the difference between Siberia and small town US… or more. There are no travel guides I could read to prepare for this journey, no Pentecostalese-Christianese dictionaries… so there has been some culture shock to deal with. But it’s worth it.