November 10, 2014
That post she wrote/is writing/might not write about church
1. I'm a card-carrying member of the Ironic Generation and sincerity is hard.
2. It feels like I'm apologizing for not going to church, even though it's something I don't think bears apologizing for, or - worse - that I'm protesting too much, which must mean that I feel guilty, even though it's something I don't think bears feeling guilty about, or...you get the picture.
3. It's church. And twined up in with my reasons for not going are a whole bunch of things that are true about my relationship with Jesus Christ, which means:
i) more sincerity, GAH!
ii) sub-points (let's be honest, these are kind of awesome)
iii) writing about things that are almost exclusively internally experienced, like that's easy
iv) giving you reasons to reflect back on what you know about me and be surprised
4. A lot of the reasons I don't want to go to church sound a lot like reasons I think church is bad, or that I'm somehow smarter or better or more spiritually honest than all those people that show up week in and week out, which makes it hard to write the truth about why I don't want to go without making it sound like the truth about why no-one should go, which I'm pretty sure isn't the truth.
5. See point 4.
6. It's a pretty big topic, which might be a pretty big understatement.
7. It's not possible that some of you will read this, think back to what you know of me, and snort "if that lady is a believer, I don't want to be one", it's impossible that some of you won't. For that I apologize. Apologies everywhere.
8. Writing this is so much easier than actually saying it to people, which feels like an enormous cop-out.
There are also a million reasons* why I want to write a post about why we don't go to church
1. I like explaining myself, and my penchant for navel-gazing in public is only surpassed by my penchant for (choose one: reading, eating, avoiding people I kind of recognize in the grocery store because I'm too embarrassed that I don't remember their name to say hello, and maybe they don't recognize me anyway, and then I'll have to remember why I recognize them, and maybe I don't really recognize them, but how likely is that, since this is the town I grew up in and it's only ever had 11,000 people in it?)
2. I've had the same conversation with three different people in one week - ONE WEEK - and feel like it's kind of a theme.
3. Writing it out will (maybe, but let's not hold our breaths) make me organize my thoughts.
4. I'm afraid that most of my Reasons For Not Going to Church are intellectual objections that have very little to do with Going to Church and very much to do with I Don't Want to Go, and I'm hoping those of you still reading will call bullshit on me, should bullshit ever appear. (<= look, there's some!)
Deep breaths, people:
I believe that Jesus Christ is God, that he really lived, he really was perfect, he really died, and that God really brought him back to life, that this sequence of events is what make it possible for broken people in a broken world to be reconciled to the kind of life God meant for them to have before they decided to break themselves, and that the kind of life that God means for us to have is right. Inexpressibly right, consistent with his revealed character, and just...right.
I don't believe that "going to church" in the way we've come to understand the term is a biblically-mandated activity. I believe that spending ourselves in knowing, caring for, and supporting people - all of them, every single one - is The Activity. I'm not very good at it.
I believe that knowing other people who believe and are satisfied with everything that Jesus Christ promises to be in us, and maturing with them (which means actually knowing them, having real relationships with them, and being vulnerable to them through ups and downs) is precious, and these relationships with these people is what Church (as in - the body of believers, the body of Christ, etc.) really means.
Incidentally (<= not incidentally at all), I believe that ^^this^^ is The Important Bit, and everything else that makes people divide themselves up into denominations is window dressing.
I believe that church organizations and structures are logical because anytime a bunch of human beings get together in groups they have to fight the tendency to argue over stupid things, so organizing those stupid things in advance (like: "where are we going to meet?" "what time, again?" "will there be food?" "do we all talk, or just one person?" etc.) makes it easier to focus on the important things...but that it also makes it easier to focus on the stupid things and get them confused with the important things.
I believe that it's easier to know other believers by attending church services with them, because that's where theyre statistically likely to show up, and it's easy to assume that because they walk through the door they're willing to talk about Jesus, but it's also easier to simply attend beside them without actually building a relationship with them - rather like that developmental stage where toddlers play beside each other but not with each other.
I believe attending church services makes it harder to actually know, have real relationships with, and be vulnerable to people who do not believe in the same things that I do. Those people tend not to show up very often, funnily enough, which means I have to have my eyes open for them ALL THE TIME. Of course, I could do that in addition to attending services, so this one's kind of bullshit.
I believe that the minutiae of modern church, the logistics that go into making a Sunday morning happen (what do we do with the kids? we need people to clean the building, who pays for the electricity?) take a lot of energy that fools me into thinking that I'm Getting Involved, while taking up time and resources that could be devoted to getting to know, having real relationships with, and being vulnerable (and of service) to people who don't believe the same things that I do.
I believe that the power of God is such that he can reveal the truth about himself to anyone, anywhere, and anytime, which - again - makes me question what the value of church really is.
I believe that singing about Jesus in a group of people is my favourite activity ever, and am suspicious that it's the real reason I even want to attend church services.
I'm uncomfortably aware that the hubris of walking into a church and asking if the members, leadership, and organization as a whole meet my criteria for worthiness is obvious. Glaringly, excruciatingly so.
I believe that I can grapple with all of this, come to a satisfactory answer, and go to church honestly. I believe that I could never have grappled with it and still go to church honestly. What I don't know is if I can grapple with all of it, never come to a satisfactory answer, and go to church honestly.
*Look, ladies, I never said I was good at math.
Posted by The Mrs at 8:16 AM