Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life Without Church - Part 1

The following was written about a month ago, and I never really finished it, but I started writing something else today and realized that what I was writing was "Part 2" of this post. So, today I give you Part 1...

I went to a baptism yesterday. It was the first time I've attended church in years. And it wasn't a church service, per se. It was an outdoor baptism service following the "regular" church service. It was hot and bright and the late summer wind was stirring up all my allergies. Even so, I found myself feeling all sentimental and nostalgic, closing my eyes to sing and just be with the Jesus-followers around me, in all of our imperfection and discomforts...and commitment to the same God and Creator, who forgives us our imperfections and loves us like we love our children, fiercely and unconditionally. I found myself singing that oh-s-familiar refrain,

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back

The simplicity was stunning. And my eyes were stinging. And I realized that I wanted Mane to know this song. I want her to have the precious little gems I got out of growing up in church. Somehow, I want her to have this experience of being a pilgrim on a journey with other pilgrims. I want her to know that our family isn't the only family on this journey. I want her to know that there are other people in this family. I want her to know that following God comes in all shapes and sizes, that everybody has unique ways of being a God-follower. I want church. Not a building. Church. I want people who have the grace to not argue theology and church politics, who won't get hung up on doctrine. I want to talk about all of those things. But I don't want to argue. And, in the end, I want grace.

The real truth is that we don't go to church because we don't want Mane's impressionable mind to loaded with prejudices and legalism and an all-one-way kind of doctrine.  And we don't want to have to be exactly like everybody else to belong. And, really, we want a church that is more about relationships than Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday services.

I don't know what this means because we haven't found what we want anywhere. And maybe it's because we don't have enough grace and flexibility to just go and be there and forgive the differences and choose to be part of something anyway. It's so difficult to find the line where wanting grace and flexibility becomes graceless and rigid.

I do know that, because we don't go to a church service in a church building, we have to be that much more intentional about teaching our children who we are and what we believe. Church-going offers a structure that is hard to come by in any other way. We must, instead, be intentional about finding fellowship, learning scripture, practicing prayer, and singing those favorite hymns. It's harder than I had imagined.


Sabrina said...

We don't have kids yet, but I am already thinking about these things. My husband and i haven't been to church in quite awhile. Not because we don't want to go, but we just don't know where we belong. And I don't want to go somewhere where they are going to teach things that I have grown weary of. I would love to find a church, and i would love if when we have children we had a place to go to where they could learn the bible stories, songs, fellowship, that I had as a child.
Church to me is everyday living as a follower of Christ in community with others, giving, sharing and loving one another.

MidnightCafe said...

"Church to me is everyday living as a follower of Christ in community with others, giving, sharing and loving one another."

This. Thank you for saying this. I think it's really, really important to remind ourselves that this is what church truly is, whether it happens in a building with a sermon and special music or not.

Heather of the EO said...

First of all, I love it when Sabrina says "my husband" :)

Next, ME TOO. We're in your shoes right now, friend. I have these same exact thoughts about it all. I don't have all the answers but I loved how you talked about being intentional at home. I think when we do go to church (in our family) we almost get lazy about stuff at home. Well...I get lazy all the time, but yeah...MORE lazy...

I have so many thoughts on this. Maybe I'll join in with a post too. Looking forward to your second part :)

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