I am not sure when it happened, but I really had lost interest in attending church. All the while, I would have said that I was living a “missional life”, I serve locally in mentoring two groups of students. I feel incredibly fulfilled, in fact I often don’t really understand why I need to be connected to a larger group of Christians.
I think the breakdown began to happen when, many years ago, I was offered my first pastorate and I found that church leadership is often more broken than the people that they serve. Oftentimes, things were said behind closed doors that I would shudder at. I felt a few times, as though I would fit better in a secular career, because I expect too much from Christian leaders. I don’t expect them to be perfect, but I guess I do expect them to be somewhat nice. Maybe I was asking too much.
We eventually left this church. And we left another,and another, and another, and one more. We were often better at coming in for a year or two, trying to help with children and change mindsets and when people seemed to get it, we were gone. This is tiring process after being a pastor at three different churches, it has truly damaged my faith in the system of the church in America. I didn’t really trust it. I blamed it. I hated it.
Then I found, through a lot of time away that the parts of it I hated were mostly ideology I had struggled with because a lack of character on my part. I used to think that everyone should be in harmony and agree, although I have seen more and more that the closeness comes in the struggle to be the church. All of the arguments and disagreements help us become one. I have never really given a chance for the idea of community and “church” to take root in me since I was a member of my first church back in Bonner Springs, KS.
I wanted every church after that to have the maturity of it. I wanted every pastor to be like the pastor at that church, I wanted everything on my terms. I did not want to have to change. Not that I thought I was right, but it “felt” wrong. It would make sense that it would feel wrong because the church is full of broken people, the biggest being me.
So now, my wife and decided to get back in attending a local church. We went to one that I had previously liked and I wanted to run out. I was so scared that I would feel this way about any one that we would attend. Strangely, the next week we went back to a church that we had left in 2013. For some crazy reason, for four weeks it has felt like more of a home than I have ever felt in a church, in years. I can’t explain, but I know that one of the biggest reasons it has been helpful to me is that I am being challenged to change my character, not just go by my feelings, but to go by what God wants for me. Today I was challenged to accept after God’s grace and to give it more freely. I will do this. I don’t want to be estranged from others that I can mutually learn from. Some day, I know I will look back on these days and it will be a strong story of why sometimes we need to leave something, so that we can find truer motives. Sometimes, it is required to hit the virtual reset and attempt to look at something that I have stared at intensely in a vastly different light. Christ’s church is beautiful again to me. I am inspired.