Monday, October 3, 2011

What is church?

I went to church yesterday.  My husband asked me to go to church and I said I would.  I've been thinking about why going to church is so hard for me.  Why?  What in the world do I have against church?  Do I have anything against church?  Or is it me with the problem regarding church?

What is church?

This seems like a easy question.  The kind of question one might answer in an simple sentence or two. "A church is a building in which Christians meet for worship," is one. "A church is a group of Christians who gather for religious purposes" is another.  Not so fast...

Church used to fit this description for me when I was younger.  It even fit this description when my son was younger.  Not so much, now.

First of all, the "group of Christians" portion of the definition is becoming blurrier.  Christians are believers in Christ, right?  You would think this is pretty self-explanatory.  However, I'm finding most mainstream churches are becoming places trying to change that kind of belief.  Just believing in Christ and the Grace given to us through Christ's coming to us as a man and living a sinless life and dying on the cross for our sins and raising from the dead and ascending to heaven, is pretty limiting.  If this is the only way to God and this is the only thing Christians are allowed to believe, well, that's pretty intolerant of other beliefs.  And, intolerance is not very loving, right?  And Christians are all about love, so... we should be tolerant of all other beliefs.  REALLY?

I know not all churches believe this, but I'm out here in the mid-Atlantic coast.  I'm in one of the MOST liberal areas you can imagine.  No, the Bible belt does not pass through this area.

Almost every church I've attended, in my area, has a yoga class in it's list of weekly activities.  I've taken yoga.  I know I don't have to buy into the spirituality of it.  But why is it in the Christian church?  Why?  Why muddy the spirituality of a Christian church with yoga?  I'm guessing,... to be inclusive.  To be tolerant of other beliefs.

Yesterday the minister (pastor, reverend, whatever you want to call him) was preaching on original sin and why we have trouble in the world today.  He said last week's sermon was on creation, and "whatever you believe about creation..." and continued on with the sermon.  I guess I'm glad I wasn't there last week to hear that "whatever I want to believe" will be ok.  It just didn't sound right, "whatever I want to believe."  I've always been under the impression that the Word of God was infallible and if I believed what it said, I'd be on the right track.

What I am finding, in churches, is more like the above, than not.  Whatever I want to believe is ok with them.

Back to the definition of church, a group of Christians...  maybe not.

I know I've complained about church ladies in this blog before.  This is another thing making it hard to go to Church.  Church ladies.  I'm a little afraid of church ladies.  These are the ladies that teach the Bible studies and "pray for you" when I would really like a little "hands on" help.  These are the same ladies that remind me, "we don't do it that way" when I offer to help.  These are the same ladies encouraging me to be transparent and share my deepest faults and fears and then talk about me behind my back.  I'm afraid of church ladies.

I read a blog from another Church lay leader from a church I used to attend.  He wrote about forgiving people, but still being mad at them.  He thought this is something he should get over, but he just couldn't do it.  He wrote about a minister, he felt, stealing members of his "praise band" from him.  So here is this guy, sitting in this minister's church, hating on him.  He writes about listen to the music, and he says it's good,  it's good because this minister guy stole all the talent from his church.  Really?  Churches steal people?  I'm not feeling the love here.
So, I went to church yesterday.  The minister preached out of the Bible.  It was ok.  The church ladies sang in front of the people and it was ok.  They prayed for me (all of us sitting in the audience) and it was ok.  I know going to Church is not dangerous.  The Church is full of broken people, seeking God.  Right?  That's what they tell me, anyway.  Sometimes I find it a little hard to believe.


  1. I understand where you're coming from, although I'm proud to be known (by my friends in the adult home) as "the church lady" and try not to be as those you describe. Regarding tolerance, reading this made me thankful for my pastor, who is more conservative than I: to the point of not liking halloween and not appreciating Santa Claus.

  2. i hear you...

    i struggle at times with church...the building that becomes the church more than the poeple in it...

    living in the bible belt i dont fit very well, because i am a bit more tolerant...i dont throw stones and act like i am holier than a democrat...yeah church is political, they dont like my obama sticker...smiles...

    the problem is not scripture but when we lay our hands on it and then call it truth...

    in the end we are all broken...and i imagine god shakes her head at us often...hehe...ok, he....

  3. I switched denominations because of behavior that you describe.  I feel a great comfort from my church (most of the time.) 

  4. Both my hubby and I were raised in church, our fathers are both Baptist pastors yet we do not attend.  We stopped "going to church" about 3 years ago.  It was hard for me to accept this change but it's been a blessing.  We attempt to seek out "church" (which to us is fellowshipping with other believers) in our home and in the homes of others.  We no longer call ourselves "Christians" because we feel in today's society it has come to mean so many different things.  We are simply disciples or followers of Jesus.  Our mission in to love those around us and show them Him.  Don't know if we will always be out of the traditional church but for right now, this is where He has us.  I'm at peace with it.

  5. All I'll say is that I could write a novel about my hang-ups about church, but I won't. I totally get this.

  6. I pray you find a church that preaches the truth of the Bible, where imperfect people are bring transformed by the perfect love of God!

  7. I get this. I do live in the bible belt and God's word is unapologetically preached in our church. But, there is a disconnet for many. As a leader in the church I walk a mine field of "yes we live together", "Did you see the latest (fill in the blank with an R rated flick)?, "Here my face book page"- (where radom cursing, boudoir shots, and  scripture like to nestle up close to each other) or "why do I need to (fill in the blank with an act of kindess such as take the visitor to lunch or feed the kids sunday school class, I am busy.)". I clearly don't have the right go in both barrels blazing and set folks "right". I work to befriend everyone I can (having them into my home, inviting them to go places with our family or being present in their time of need) so that when the moment comes when gossip is offered up as chit chat I can say- God convicted me about turning every criticism into a prayer of love, it really helped me.  I had a real  stuggle with bitterness before that. Or I can begin to give my testimony about how God greatly blessed our marriage because we chose to live and sleep seperately until we were married. Oraganic Christianity. Pesticide free ;) with a dash of hand pick TLC. Organic Church is much the same. We need it. Our souls crave it.


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