Someday, perhaps soon, I will write about how I went from Muslim to Atheist to Wiccan to Christ Follower...but today I just want to share why we no longer attend a Church. To be clear, I'm talking about the definition of church that relates to a building, a meeting place with a Lead Pastor, and small groups and sometimes coffee in the lobby.
We joined a church years ago that we LOVED. I mean we were there every Sunday not just twice a year. We joined a group for young adults mid week and the kids went to the childcare. The loving Sunday school caretakers knew our kids by name which is a big deal since the church is HUGE. They had been going since birth.
So now you're probably wondering, "What's the problem then?! Sounds like a great environment to grow spiritually!" Well...I think the first time I was disappointed was when we had just moved back from out of state. It was near the end of the church school year for Sunday school. I dropped my eldest daughter off for her class. When I picked her up an hour later she was in tears. TEARS. What in the world happened?! The girls all made fun of her because apparently that day was a competition quiz day on what they had learned all year. Thanks for the heads up. The girls lost by one point because she didn't know the answer to her question when asked. She did know the answers to the other questions, but it wasn't her turn on those.
From then on she just sat with me in service, which we both enjoyed! My husband was typically at work so it was nice to have her with me. This was our pre-homeschooling days by the way. Things starting stacking up to irritate me but it really wasn't so much all the little things that caused us to give up church. It was the bigger picture of how we want to live our lives. I'm sure it varies by church and I'm sure you go to the best, most awesome, authentic one but it felt fake. I mean the atmosphere of it all felt forced and fake. Fake smiles, fake music, fake connections to others.
Fake me. I mean you put on a smile, dress up [even though you don't HAVE to], tell everyone things are great. It's not like I was trying to deceive people, I just felt like this is what I was supposed to do. Everything felt superficial except the sermons. So then we moved into the next phase which included sleeping in and watching the sermons from the comfort of our couch, in jammies, while eating cereal. Hey, we were always hungry at church, we said. That has a much deeper meaning now.
We just kind of fizzled out into nothing church related for quite awhile, really. When we started homeschooling, we added Bible studies [and now Missionary studies] to our curriculum line up. We pray together, read devotionals and other faith based books, singing along to worship music, and we do this not just with each other. We do this with my sister and niece, friends, and down by the beach talking with strangers. My husband talks to co-workers and they share their faith.
I used to feel guilty about not going. Like it made me less of a Christian. I would get this from members of our church, "Going to church is important because it refuels your soul for the week. It's the time to congregate with other believers and grow spiritually." Maybe so. However, I realized that I was getting that in other places without realizing it. In those moments described above, I was still filling my mind with The Word, finding joy in sharing that with our children and with strangers. I also read amazing articles like this one written by a pretty awesome friend I made back in college about Tithing. Trust me it's an awesome, FACT filled article that's beyond worth reading. It got me thinking about what's true, what's real and what I believe. And then there's this:
I mean, we're a family of five so, boom. I want to live a truly authentic life. Truly connecting with others, and making a difference. I love being inspired by the journeys of other people and hearing about how they've grown closer to God. It's odd, by not going to church we have all actually grown more spiritually than we ever have. Our personal relationships with God have grown more trusting. We have had a REALLY rough year, but it didn't destroy our faith. It strengthened it. I actually don't freak out when things don't go our way. That is the complete 180 of who I used to be.
Does this mean that I will never go back to church? Maybe not. I found a church I'm thinking of trying later this year after we move to The Island. They got my interest peaked with a video about how it's a church for people who don't like church. Sounds like my kind of people. My dream church is bunch of Bohemian Hippie Souls, chillin' on a beach having a Bible study and then shredding some waves. Maybe I should start a one. Ya know, I might just do that.
Check out this song by Hillsong United