Home > Church, Faith, The Life and Times of a Disenfranchised Christian > The Life and Times of a Disenfranchised Christian, volume v: The Break Up

The Life and Times of a Disenfranchised Christian, volume v: The Break Up

churchWe broke up with our church this week.

It’s a strange thing I suppose. We each wrote emails to the folks it seemed appropriate to write, and tried to explain as best we could how we had been attending a year, had made more than cursory attempts at getting involved, including two small groups, worship band and kids ministry, and hadn’t come out with any friends to speak of. I can’t really get into who to attribute that to, since just about everyone at the church, including most notably us, has small children and therefore remarkably little social energy. And that’s not really the point of this entry anyway.

The point is this: I realized it’s not a church we’re looking for, it’s community. We’re not looking for a Sunday morning experience, except as far as it is a part of the community experience. We didn’t leave this church, or any other that we attended for any length of time these last four years, because we were looking for better worship, or more Bible-centered preaching, or any other way of doing Sunday morning church better. We’re looking for relationship, thats’ all. We’re looking for a community that’s focused on dialogue more than dispensing truth, cultivating community more than putting on a good Sunday morning event, and navigating the journey more than defining the destination. People who use the word “and” where most others say “but”, and who can handle the long term and extensive mess that honesty creates.

And truthfully, we could take or leave Sunday morning. I’ve gone to churches I’ve loved, and others I haven’t, and I’m frankly not sold on the Sunday morning event in itself. There are many things good about it, and other things not so much. Today for me the Sunday morning event/celebration/gatahering/worship/service/call it what you will seems to be a place for people who are either already in the club or people that the people in the club hope are hoping they can be in the club too. On stage it can be very much like Letterman, where the band fires off a few songs before the monologue starts. But in the end it’s not an event that is created to involve people deeper in relationship. True enough, any gathering of dozens or hundreds of people by definition isn’t going to engender intimacy, and it’s impossible for that to be the focus of a church’s large gatherings. But for a religion based on ultimate love I would think it would be easier for a stranger in the crowd to identify the on-ramp to resources that could be personal and helpful.

In my experience here the churches have been consumer-oriented. It’s plain to see the effort and skill that goes into the sound, the lights, the music, the talk, the decorations on the stage, the choice of offering baskets. None of these helps me. Not an entire waste, perhaps, but entirely not the point of church. What I haven’t found yet is authenticity – individual authenticity I’ve seen in certain folks, including pastors, but corporate authenticity has proven entirely elusive. Maybe I’m being impossibly idealistic here, but if this sort of church doesn’t exist then someone should start one.

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  1. wayneman5
    July 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I know what you mean. “Church” has been so stylized, stratified, and ossified that it bears little resemblance to the assemblies of the early followers of Christ. The true church is His body–“where any two or three gathered together in my name there I am in the midst.” Commune-ity is family. And if that true agape love-from-above is not at a particular “church” building on any given Sunday morning, then I am sure that He in the end will press the buzzer and say, “Time’s up. Thank you for playing the game.”
    I look at the whole “going to church” experience as a way station on the road to the Eternal City. I definitely do not condemn it; it is necessary in our search. But the time comes for the future princes and princesses of God to awake unto the higher calling. That’s what we are to be about.
    God bless you on your pilgrimage.
    Hope to see you out there on “Immortality Road” sometime: http://www.ImmortalityRoad.wordpress.com
    Kenneth Wayne Hancock

  2. July 16, 2008 at 5:55 am

    Johnathan,
    It looks like after all these years we’re in very similar places. Last year I stopped going to the Vineyard, to spend more time in my neighborhood loving my neighbors. I have grown to see the importance of relationship over services. It looks like I’m going to hook up with a couple in East Boston and start a faith community. Good luck sorting all this stuff out, and finding people to partner with in community.

  3. anonymous
    August 3, 2008 at 4:56 am

    i really appreciate your posts. i’m a bit of a Christian outcast, but i still seek. and i appreciate your words on seeking. thank you. please keep writing.

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