I remember about this time last year, I first started to get an understanding about a virus, that had made it’s way to the United States, and was incredibly contagious and had the potential of being incredibly lethal if we did not get a firm grasp on it. Today, the world looks so different. So many things have changed, and somethings haven’t. But today, I notice this growing concern I have had for months now. Maybe it had been hidden from me because of the world that has been so saturated with politics, that I simply cannot think of anything else. Maybe it’s because I work myself so hard that I cannot stop for a moment to think of anything of real substance. Maybe its because of the mounting mental health concerns that each member of my family has to deal with. Maybe it’s something more. But I’m realizing that I deeply, truly miss being in Church.
Let me pause for a moment and make sure you understand. I am in no way advocating that churches need to throw caution to the wind and have fully attended survices again. There have definitely been several arguments being made, that I think are rather foolish. I in no way want to add more fuel to that fire by someone pointing to me and saying, “But that Christian over there misses it, so we must have services!” What I am trying to say is that I miss being a part of a community of believers that are actively attempting to find a deeper connection with God, and are working to becoming more like Him and the image of Jesus. I miss that!
In July of last year, I chose to leave the church I was serving at because of a controversial hire. The denomination I was a part of (and still am by membership) chose to install a person as pastor of my church that had a history of sexual misconduct. I felt badly for that congregation because they all they wanted to do was share Jesus with everyone around them. They were, unfortunately, made up of many less than mature Christians with a focus on “getting the young people” and trying to keep their building open. When it was time to interview for a new pastor, they relied on denominational leadership to provide a good candidate and did not do their own due dilligence in the hiring process. When new broke about the new pastor, it most certainly fractured the congregation and led to many people, myself included, to leaving the church. Since that day I have not attended another service of any church.
Now there have been a few times that my wife and I would find virtual services we could attended. There services were nice and high quality (both video and audio), but I always found something lacking in the experience. Anytime we would watch, I almost always had issues with what the pastor was saying. He was never technically wrong, I just disagreed and his arguments were always flat and non-substantive. There have been other services where everything was fine, but the community is so far away; I have no chance of being able to join once we were allowed to get phyically back together. Then there is my social anxiety that makes me want to stay inside even when I can go visit people I’ve never met, in order to find out if they can help me on my path to Christlikeness.
To be honest, I’m even scared of my own brothers and sisters in Christ. So much of the Church has gotten attached to a particular political ideology that I find myself increasingly unable to agree to. I’ve seen too many of the scarely clips of pastors preaching really terrible things from the pulpit. I simply don’t want to expose my children to that, and I don’t know what’s around me. I know that those of us who are in a real realtionship with Christ, not those that simply claim to, want to hold each other up and make one another better. I so desperately wish there was a community here, near me, that felt that Jesus was the most important thing in all of reality. But I can’t even discover them because we must stay seperated for now.
Maybe my problem is that I do not know how to “church shop.” Even if I did, the kind of community I’m looking for wouldn’t be one that is big into advertising. My constant prayer is that I want to feel like I belong. I know that Jesus accepts me, but I don’t know where his real Church is. I cannot find those people that would want me to come alongside them as we serve Christ and the world together. Christianity is not a faith that is meant to be practice in solitude. We need each other. We need to encourage each other. I know that things will get better. I know that one day, I’ll find the group of believers that I am missing. Until then, I just feel so defeated. I can read all the books, write all the blogs, send all the tweets, and pray all that I want. But there’s still something missing. Is there even a place for me in the Bride of Christ? I feel that I’ve been cast out, because I took a stand on what I thought was right. I have been shuned because I’m not willing to toe the line of having a non-intellectual faith. Ultimately, I don’t know what to do because there aren’t any gatherings anyway. Virtual meetings will only get so far. I miss being in Church, but I don’t think it misses me.