Four anonymous questions (edited for length) —
– Why do people try to make being a Christian harder than it already is? … That is daunting in itself if you’re prone to doubt and self-loathing … On top of THAT we’re expected to be smiling faces, loud singers, waving our bibles and screaming the Word from the mountain tops…
– Hello … I do not attend church due to unhealthy amount of judgement and alienation .. I am constantly made to feel I’m an abomination because I do not want to be a housewife or a mother. I am a writer, an illustrator, introverted. I’ve also fallen into depression and this feeling of alienation, even damnation, has gotten worse.
– I’ve left church for about a year now because of a friendship … which developed many complications … I felt that somehow God would want me to go back to church but pride (or whatever it is) is stopping me… Something feels amiss but I can’t figure out why. I do miss fellowship. Any thoughts on this?
I’m really sorry each of you have been made to feel this way.
As St. Augustine supposedly said, “The church is a whore, but she is my mother.” He probably didn’t say that, but I agree.
Please know: I feel exactly what you’re feeling on both sides of the pulpit. I’ve been in backroom meetings with church leaders and I know all the horrible language they use to talk about the congregation. I’ve visited at least forty or fifty churches in my lifetime, which is probably not a lot, but enough to know how little they preach on grace or Jesus. I have enough dirt on at least three ministries to ensure they never receive support again (let’s just say I know how to press “record” when the drama starts). I’ve been in places where you are ridiculed for not following “their rules” and it’s just an inch away from being a cult.
There are preachers who preach grace like crazy, but act like complete a-holes behind the scenes. My mom (not a Christian) visited a church where the pastor offered to sleep with her. I’m not kidding. I’ve been recently hurt by church so badly that, as of this writing, I’m currently not involved in any church staff (I was a youth pastor for three years and on staff for five, and admittedly, I never thought I was a very good pastor). However bad you think it is, it’s even worse.
Yet I still love her. I still love the church. I am not mad about these things anymore — I am just grieved and heartbroken.
As difficult as she can be, the church is still God’s idea. Jesus said “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). I often get questions like, “Do I have to attend church since ___? Why do so many Christians suck? Can I just pray and read Scripture by myself?”
My answer is always the same. God created us to be in community together (Hebrews 10:19-25). There’s no avoiding it. It will not be easy, but without it, we will never be the fully formed individual we were called to be, nor can we become the collective countercultural force for good in the universe.
There are certainly guidelines to consider before committing to a home-church or leaving one — but please, find a church and build your roots. As crazy as she is, we’re called to be part of God’s body for His glory.
While I can’t hope to answer all your specific concerns, here are a few things to consider. Please feel free to skip around.