I haven’t been to church in years.
As a Christian, this is far from ideal. I pray, read my Bible, happily share my faith with others, listen to apologetics podcasts, and though I am far from what I should be, I know that my salvation is based on no action of my own other than the acceptance of a free gift. Still, though, I don’t have a home church that I am a part of. I don’t even have a church that I attend regularly. Heck, I’m wracking my brain to think of a time that I’ve even VISITED a church meeting in the last couple of years.
That’s not good, and I know it.
I have been really feeling that yearning for Christian community for some time, but even more so in the last 6 months. Now that I have my weekend’s free, again, I really have no excuses. Today was the day, the day to start my hunt for a new church home. Aaaaaaaaaaaand, nope… only productive thing I did today was exercise. Why didn’t I go somewhere, though? I’m not depressed, I’m not sick, and I had no pressing school/work matters to attend to. Well, almost in the same way that many years of distance from my family makes it tricky for me to involve them in my life now, I found that I’m feeling the same hesitancy about going back to church.
My dad was a pastor for most of my childhood, and I grew up going to church. Even when I was out from under my parent’s wings, so to speak, and going to their church was no longer a “given,” I regularly attended a high school church service with my friends. Once out of high school, I never quite had a home church again, but did spend a number of years in attendance at a few other churches. Slowly, though, my efforts waned — partially due to the exhaustion and disappointment of church-hunting failures, partially due to an in-grown disillusionment that had been in place from way back when I was a young teenager. Most of that was all my own faults at play, complemented by a hefty dose of angst, but as I combed through the websites of local churches last night, I found that I was still feeling disinterested.
It’s a curious dichotomy; on one hand, I am starving for collective communion and the edification of having a close Christian community, but on the other hand, I am so disinterested in blasé modern worship or shallow teaching. In all sincerity, the worship was definitely the much stronger detriment during this cursory search. I’m not interested in trying to join a large church with 50+ programs in operation and I really don’t take to using flashy modern graphics and “cool” lingo to make sermons and promotional materials more hip, but perhaps I could look beyond all of that if the worship time spoke to me, because while I can seek out more stimulating speeches from others online, alone, what I can’t do solo is praise God in a congregation. As I was looking up some of the local non-denominational churches, all I found were things which sparked remnants of that bitter root: mood lighting, acoustic guitars, everything I grew up with that I entirely disdain. It isn’t that I think those things are necessarily evil or anything, but they completely disinterest me. It takes me out of the moment. Finding a group with which I share doctrinal beliefs can be a little tricky, perhaps, but then also trying to find one whose worship service also interests me started to wear on me as I fruitlessly searched online yesterday, and I finally gave up.
…or, perhaps, I’m still holding on to that bitter root with an iron grip, making excuses and finding faults, simply because letting go and embracing something I have spent so much time without is terrifying and hard 😉 .
Strangely enough, a former co-worker of mine posted on Facebook that he wanted to visit a college church group this Thursday, but didn’t want to go alone. Being a buddy, I offered to go with him. Of course, this is probably the last place I would choose to go on my own, based on what church it is and the fact that even when I WAS still college-aged I didn’t belong in a modern college-aged service, but I’m going for him. Because I can.
Hopefully it’ll be just the kick-off I need to start visiting churches for myself next Sunday, because I am certainly doing myself a huge disservice by not having a group of fellow Christians to minister and be ministered to. Hopefully I can push beyond this negativity and bitterness and it’ll sink in that I’ll be going for Him. Because I can.
P.S. – south Orange County, CA suggestions for churches are quite welcome 🙂