I think I have a problem with church

Last Wednesday I went to an inter-church house group for the first time. When I got there we introduced ourselves to each other and I was asked what church I was affiliated to;

I’m not affiliated to any church, I currently attend Abingdon Vineyard Church but I’m not affiliated with any church

My answer was probably unnecessarily convoluted but I couldn’t bring myself to say I was affiliated with any church. To say you are affiliated suggest that you agree to, and have signed up to, a particular churches statement of faith. I don’t agree with the churches statement of faith in its entirety, neither do I agree entirely with the theological views of the pastors. This doesn’t seem too odd, but I just can’t fully identify with the church.

When I was 18 and wrestling with many things, the church was not exactly there with help. I just got told to have more faith or not to be worried about what had happened, and this just got repeated the more I tried to explain. Eventually I just lost all patience with the church and it was a factor in my turning my back on Christ. To me, the church were more interested in rules than helping people. There were part of the problem. During my journey back, there were 3 Christians who showed me they were interested in people because Christ was. They were inspiring in my journey back to Christ.

In my previous entry, I outlined some of my issues with the way some Christians portray Christ and how its affected me. This has drawn some criticism about me attacking the “bride of Christ”. Whilst my blog was specifically about Christians, it could be applied to the established church and it’s possible my experience of the established church has fueled this. You don’t have to look too hard to see pastors condemning people as going to hell, fighting equality etc. I do make a distinction between Christ and the church, I just don’t see Christs vision of the church and how it is today, being the same thing.

Truth is I’ve never really settled at a church. I like my current church; I like its informal nature, the people and I can get on board with the pastors vision. But I frequently have times where I feel I don’t belong there, where I’m looking for something and can’t find it. I probably can’t find it because I’m not sure what I’m looking for. All I know is that I’m trying to work on my relationship with Christ, beyond that it’s in his hands. It was interesting discussing many different views last week and my inability to fully explain my views on the resurrection has pushed N.T Wrights book Surprise by Hope to the top of my reading list. I loved the discussion, not in spite of the differences but because of them.

I just don’t get on with church though, I’ve even thought about not referring to myself as Christian because of the church. I can’t do that yet without feeling I’m abandoning Christ. People have done it though, http://fawnziebird.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/goodbye-christianity-hello-jesus.html is the tale of one such person. Maybe I’m missing something.

Edit: God has brought this video my mind. It is a great answer.

 

First published 1st July 2013

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3 thoughts on “I think I have a problem with church

  1. Mere Dreamer says:

    Your thoughts resonated with me, so I’m sharing my thoughts on “identity” vs. “labels” – I don’t mind being called Christian by people who employ the term, but I don’t label myself that way.

    I’d rather others discover my beliefs by interacting with me directly–and I’m not one to avoid deep discussions–so we generally get into world-view and faith sooner rather than later. My identity is the actuality of my beliefs, as they are lived. I explore them every day … but they are written on my heart and expressed in life, not in a doctrinal statement.

    My strongest aversion to the term comes from a rising awareness that people usually have conflicting caricatures of God and Jesus in mind when they hear it, even among those who believe. I really don’t communicate anything valid with it, as far as I can tell. In fact, when others use “Christian” I am wary. Too many label themselves by a relationship they don’t live. (I can say I know the Queen all I want, but do I? Only experience will tell.)

    On the other hand, I find it far too easy to manipulate some people into accepting me using that term, when they might not if they knew what I really think. By avoiding it, they don’t have to feel betrayed later … and I get to interact where I actually am, instead of fighting to be seen through their stereotypes of faith, positive or negative.

    • evidence2hope says:

      Thank you so much for your comments, I’m glad it resonated with you.

      I find labels can be a barrier, especially where’s a preconception (and possible misconception) as to what a word/label means and I like what you’ve said about “others discover my beliefs by interacting with me directly”.That does still rely on them being able to see past their preconceptions though

      • Mere Dreamer says:

        *laugh* I don’t expect everyone to see through … some just don’t pay attention to anything but what they want to see. But I’ve found this method works well … at least for now. I generally have much more honest conversations and find out more about who others are, also.

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