‘Jesus never fails’, the old hymn goes. But his church definitely does. What happens when the church betrays us? How can this impact us?
I can’t speak for everyone. But here is my story.
I was raised in a nondenominational church. It was a tiny church. My sister and I were the only kids who were there every Sunday. Mom taught our Sunday School class. Many times it was just us and her. There were three other kids who came occasionally. Two were the pastor’s grand-kids. They spent time during the week at the parsonage and several times stole the Sunday School materials (crayons, construction paper, and such I think) that mom had bought with her own money. We laughed at times if we left the car unlocked after church about what would happen if someone stole our Bibles. Mom would laughingly say “well, maybe they’ll read them!” But the pastor’s grand-kids never stopped stealing the Sunday School supplies.
We didn’t learn much in that church. The pastor, at least to my memory, spent more time preaching against humanism than preaching about Jesus. Mom taught us basic Bible stories, but not what they might mean to us, and definitely not how to study the Bible. She only taught because no one else would. The previous teacher handed us each a scripture puzzle and told us to figure it out. It was too advanced for us, but he just kept giving it to us week after week. There had been no teaching, just that puzzle, all rectangles, a verse on one rectangle, the ‘address’ on another. My sister was probably in kindergarten or first grade. Even I, the older sister, didn’t know enough about the Bible to look the verses up.
We went to that church until I was 18. We went even when I begged Mom to let me go somewhere else. I needed friends my age, and there weren’t any people my age at that church to make friends with. Most people were 40-50 years older than me. Dad stopped going to church while I was still in elementary school, and we soon stopped going to anything but the first hour of Sunday School. So we went, had class with just me, my sister, and Mom, and came home. I’m not sure why we went, but Mom said we committed to go there and that, besides, they taught what she believed. This was probably the one thing that I learned very, very well. And I took that teaching straight into the churches I would attend after leaving home, unfortunately.