I’m really struggling with church at the moment; my experiences of church as an institution, Christians and other people’s stories are just leaving me exasperated and really not wanting to bother to go back or find a new church when I move house in a couple of months time.
Christians talk of church being a community, of not looking to get something out of it but contribute to it. That’s what I’m trying to do but anytime I contribute I get told “we don’t think about that” and the leaders “suggest” I explore those themes elsewhere. In online Christian communities my posts are either deleted or I’m just banned. The message is questions and viewpoints are only welcome providing they and the answers conform to their framework. Hearing other people’s experiences are just compounding the issue. Youth workers running a mixed faith youth group and none of the “Christian” kids have ever come on an outing, Christian parents accusing them of running a cult or being branded a traitor by church leaders because they worshiped at another church. Constantly reading stories of Christians campaigning against marriage equality and women in ministry, I’m just totally fed up with the church, all churches and this “them and us” attitude. Something N.T. Wright said resonated with me about this (as does most things N.T Wright says). When asked what is the main problem with the western church, he said “it’s the scandal of disunity……the different churches don’t talk to each other and are suspicious of each other”. I distrust just about every church at the moment.
At the heart of all this is Christ and a relationship that needs to be repaired; not just the churches relationship with him but my relationship with him. The issues I have with the church have affected my relationship and the church is known for pretty much the exact opposite of what Christ is known for; I just don’t see the church now being the same as the church Christ talks about. Even as I type this I can hear the chorus of “but the church is the bride of Christ”. If I were Jesus I’d start thinking about a divorce in that case because the church seems to be sleeping with someone else right now. Being a Christian means to be a follower of Christ and the church seems to be following anything suits its own agenda.
Truth is, I just don’t feel I belong anywhere. Being on the fringes is nothing new for me, it’s where I’ve spent most of my life, but I’m usually there by my nature. Being forced out to the fringes is something very different. I want to be able to speak up in church, share what I know with the whole church. I feel I can contribute to a church in answering questions and helping to explore difficult topics. I’m not looking for people who just simply agree with me, but it would be nice to find some common ground. I like to be involved, I like to be doing something and as much as I’m struggling I am looking forward to doing the reading for a church service next month. I’ve had really positive feedback from the last 2 occasions I’ve read which helps.
What I know is that I need to build trust back up between me and Christ. To do that I need to separate him and the church. I still have support, but the church as an institution is not something I can handle or want to be a part of right now, I want to be and I hope it happens, but right now I have to leave it. The flaw though is that churches are made up of people, churches by themselves don’t do anything, it’s the people in them that do so it’s technically the people I distrust. To trust the churches I need to trust the people, which brings us back to the very first paragraph.
The circle is complete