As some of you know, I moved a year ago and again this year. Last time I never did really find a church, and this time I haven’t found anything yet either. After yet another really irritating situation (actually two) on Sunday, I’ve been thinking….
I’m bored with denominational churches. Not because there’s a lack of “anointing”, not because I miss the outward worship… truth be told, I was bored in FT, too -although whether or not there was much anointing in that is debatable -and even at conferences and camps (think day services, I’m not the only one who didn’t go because something else was more interesting, I think). The difference between FT and denominational churches, then, wasn’t anointing or outward worship or truth. What was the difference? Part of it was the fear of admitting that those supposedly “awesome”, “Holy Ghost filled” services were boring, and the lack of honesty or words to know they were boring… and the larger part may have been that I had the ability there to do something else if things got boring. So a Pentecostal service got boring? Try to figure out who the preacher is talking about. Get up and run the aisles, say amen, clap, dance, whatever. Think about what everyone will do after church. See what people are wearing. Watch the visitors. Start praying and moaning. Work yourself up.
It doesn’t work as well visiting denominational churches. And so I have time to think about how boring they are. Especially if they don’t have WiFi. (In WiFi churches I jump online and tune out for awhile.)
But why am I bored? I think there’s a mix of things. Too much “fluff” -feel good, self help speeches, a lack of interaction of people during services (no discussion, not even amens), a lack of thought at Bible studies. “Dumbing down” of theology, rather than deep discussions or sermons. A tendency to do three points and two illustrations rather than speak from the heart -and the irritating tendency revealed in that to neatly categorize people’s difficulties and Christ’s sacrifice.
Christianity isn’t a compartmentalized institution. Following Jesus isn’t nice and neat and tidy. It’s actually a bit chaotic and a lot messy at times from our perspectives. There aren’t easy answers for everything. Some things don’t even have hard answers. But ‘churchianity’ doesn’t seem very willing to acknowledge that.
Does that mean we should give up on church? No, maybe not. But I do think it’s the reason church is frustrating to me.
I picked up a book last night that was in my ‘to read’ pile. I couldn’t put it down. The book described me, describes most of us. We’ve asked some hard questions and realized that what we’ve been told about the Bible and God doesn’t answer the questions and doesn’t even fit what we’ve seen in the Bible, and that church isn’t what we were told or expected.
So if you’re looking for a church and finding it frustrating to find one, please realize you’ve been through and done something most people in ‘churchianity’ have never dreamed of -you asked the questions, faced a decision on whether or not you would believe and what you would believe, sorted through a lot of bad teaching, and come out on the other side. And as a result, at least for me, I can’t just “do church” or “have church” anymore. Not without a few yawns and a little time on the internet, at least.
What really made me realize how bored I was:
Recently the church I went to had a nice, tidy three point sermon. I can’t remember what all the points were. The message was taken from James 2, but it only covered a couple verses and was very fluffy. Do this, do that, love Jesus, the end. *Yawn* I went from that to looking for a Sunday School class. I went to the first and asked what they were studying. The man I asked looked at me and said, “We’re all older here.” I went next door to the next class (both were for “mixed adults”) and asked the same thing. Two women told me they were all –I stopped them and said I didn’t ask WHO they were, but WHAT they were studying. They responded that they were all married. Huh???
So I did finally attend a class, though. And in that class, there was a lengthy discussion on whether we should give money to bums. I tuned out. I’ve had that discussion several times. I’ve looked into it myself, considered several perspectives, and arrived at conclusions. The discussion later turned toward whether God was biased for choosing Israel as His people. It wasn’t a “Let’s open the Bible and look into that” sort of thing. It was more of a “was not-was too!” type thing. Again, I tuned out. For awhile. Until they really started getting on my nerves and I looked up from the internet long enough to interject that we should keep in mind that the Bible was written by, for and about Israelites, but that didn’t mean that God didn’t have others serving him as well. Followed by deathly silence. I went back to the internet and they changed the subject.
So… I’m bored because I go sit inside a box with people who think inside even smaller boxes, but I’m still thinking outside the box, and even wondering why we’ve made the boxes at all.