I left my church.
To many people that is no big deal. To many people no one really cares. To me, it was a big deal. It took many months of prayer. Many years of frustration. Finally a big giant surge of faith to realize I needed something different.
It was a big deal for me because church is more than just a building with 4 walls where people go. Church is a part of your greater social construct. It's a place where generation after generation of families go. On some level, it's a measure of a families' success how involved the grown children become in a church. It's rooted.
That was the problem.
This is not an indictment of my former church whatsoever. If you're looking for juicy gossip stories - that won't happen here. I love the body that makes up my former church and I love the people there even more. It's a story of my journey. Of my need to grow spiritually. Of my desire to raise up a son who has a fire and passion for Christ. To make it my business to impress upon my child who God is as Priscilla Shrier would say.
I love the Word. You have certainly read about my passion for it on this blog. I love the God in the Word more. The more and more I started pulling away from the world and diving into the Word, I began to sense more and more an ever growing pull away from going to a church that just looked like the world week after week and really wanting to be the Church every day. I ignored that pull week after week, month after month, year after year, until finally I began to feel totally out of place in church.
Then it happened.
I no longer felt like I was growing. Actually, I preferred to stay home and work on my own Bible studies than to actually go to church on Sunday. It felt like a chore. Not just for myself but for my son. I wouldn't be the best mother as I had to sometimes literally do everything in my strength to make him get dressed. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. What kind of fire and passion for Christ was I instilling in my child? One of disdain and bad thoughts about what church is? It is my business after all to impress upon him who God is.
When I started Priscilla's Gideon study in June, it didn't sit well with me. I hadn't been attending church regularly for a few months now because the chore of it all was just not worth it. We have all heard the semi-jokes about how we were dragged to church, to Baptist Training Union, to Bible study and prayer meeting, to this to that....and in adulthood we were grateful that we had been dragged to church...but generally we are grateful for that after we have messed up in some way and found our way back to the church.
I didn't want my son to have a dragged mentality. I didn't want him to be grateful for being raised in the church only after he became grown and left the church. I wanted it to be my business for him to be excited and passionate about church, but more importantly about Christ, and to carry that passion into young adulthood and adulthood. To never have to say "I found my way back".
So I went looking. I started praying. I began watching.
This past Sunday, Pastor Galen of Copper Pointe Church started a new series titled "Going Public". I encourage you to watch it but first, pray. Pray for God to give you an open heart and an open mind to what He desires for His church. I just can't reconcile in my mind that when Christ said "upon this rock I will build my Church" that he meant I will build a comfortable building with 4 walls and the same people can come Sunday after Sunday and we can smile in people's faces but talk about them behind their backs and we don't reach the broken because we are more concerned with religious doctrine and what so-and-so is wearing than about the person who walked in today just needing to see someone genuinely smile and feel loved that was hoping that this room full of christians was actually more like the Christ they talk about. (phew....glad I got that out)
Seriously, watch the sermon. The statistics are pretty shocking. I don't blame people for finding other paths to spirituality. The church has become a playground for church folk. It's not different than the world on the outside of its walls. We talk about each other. We create social caste systems. We get so busy doing church things that we stop being the Church. The Church doesn't need 4 walls. Christ didn't need 4 walls. His ministry was every day living His life. I want that.
I am just overjoyed to say that God was ever so gentle with me through this monumental decision making moment in my life. Sunday's sermon was a sweet confirmation that I had been praying for. My son is so excited to attend church...he asks me throughout the week if it's time to go. Some Sunday's when I think "we can just stay home and relax" he jumps up and says we have to go! He has a passion and fire for the Christ he is learning about in church that I can only pray I can continue to nurture and support.
My favorite quote from Sunday's sermon concludes all of the thoughts swirling in my head quite simply:
Stop doing what religious doctrine makes us do and just start loving people
Really loving people.