I don’t like church.
I didn’t grow up in church.
Some people have expressed to me that they didn’t know I didn’t grow up in church. Does that point to my complacency like many other born-into-church Christians I know? If so, I want to stand out differently.
Most churches make me uncomfortable and I don’t understand all the Christianese and acceptable appearance and behavior. Lots of churches say they accept sinners of all sorts but they really don’t. They stare at the newcomers who don’t have on the suit and tie or a dress that covers well.
I have friends from all sorts of religious backgrounds: Orthodox Jewish, Messianic, Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, LDS, Islam, and all over the spectrum.
Each denomination has its prescribed recommendations of what is acceptable for its members.
Liz has attended so many different kinds of churches, she doesn’t know which doctrine to subscribe to. I have dragged her to numerous churches: non-denominational, Church of God, Assembly of God, Lutheran, fundamental independent Baptist, Presbyterian. I even attended a Church of Christ once, but it was confusing to me that it traveled to a new venue each week. Too stressful to have to remember where to go.
I attended a church for years that had brochures in the lobby that listed Scripture to define appropriate clothing choices for Christians. I was anxious and stressed every time I stepped foot in that place. Were my shirt sleeves covering my shoulders completely? Was my skirt hem well below my knees even when I sat down? And were Liz and my toddler girls dressed that “right” way too? It was exhausting.
Church shouldn’t cause unnecessary anxiety and stress. We should feel convicted from the Holy Spirit, not other Christians.
I just want to love Jesus and my neighbor. I don’t particularly want to throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care or holler unintelligible phrases in front of people. I don’t want to fall asleep from a worship order that never changes or leaves room for the Spirit either. I just want to sing pretty music and pray and see people who smile with their eyes and their lips.
I don’t just want an emotional experience or entertainment each week. I want solid Biblical teaching without bigotry or prejudice. I’ve been to churches that didn’t accept brown people or men with long hair or jewelry.
One fundamentalist mom I knew years ago almost strangled her young son yanking a toy from around his neck when he called it a “necklace.” She informed me after I witnessed this horrific scene that males don’t wear jewelry and she homeschooled every other year so he wouldn’t turn gay from being home with his sister.
I don’t rely on a church to educate my children. It’s not a school’s job to teach my kids; it’s also not a church’s job to instill character and spiritual development. Ultimately, I am responsible to teach my kids all that and more.
Lately, I’ve noticed people commenting that they yearn for Jesus to return soon. Rather than sit on our hands, feigning helplessness, It’s a nice sentiment. Sure, the world can be ugly, but we can shine a little beauty. Why can’t we love others more? Help others more?