I actually made it to church yesterday, and one where I wasn’t reading at or visiting Sarah’s mum; first time I’ve done so in nearly 18 months. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have gone had Sarah not been with me to encourage me to go (or book the taxi and made sure I was in it with her). I chose this church because it looked like it had a similar style (relaxed, informal modern/contemporary music) to my previous church which I prefer. It was always going to be the theology that was going to be the sticking point. Not in terms of whether we agree but how they treat differences and those they disagree with.
It became quickly evident that we’re not seeing eye to eye on certain things (at one point Sarah had to pretty much hold me down when I heard “we called to love the sinner and hate the sin” and “truly forgiving involves forgetting”) and me being me, was just honest about how i felt about those things. The question I was asking God towards the end was “if I’m supposed to be here, am I here to learn or teach?” I think the answer to that is both, it’s just a matter and what, when and how. I got discussing penal substitution theory with the pastor, but very deliberately steered clear of other subjects like inerrancy and same-sex marriage. They will come, and we will have to see what happens when they do.
They’ve already made it clear that they are particular about what is taught from the front, and that they have house groups for essentially extended teaching. How open they are going to be only time will tell, how I open I will be is another matter. I’m not totally settled on what the Bible is or what I’m to do with it, or really sure what the point of church actually is, all I know is that I feel I need to be in a community of other Christians where I can share fellowship; but still be myself and challenge and be challenged and explore these doubts. The pastor has offered to meet me one to one to discuss various aspects, not sure if its to understand me more, to have the discussion or try to change my mind on things but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
I’ve had Christians tell me that we have gifts we can offer the church which is part of going. Well I’ve taken the small step of going, need to take some more and keep going. We’ll just have to see whether the gifts I offer are accepted.