Sunday 12 April 2015

Do you like your church?

"Why do you like the church you are at now?" he asked.

I don't know.

See, I can't decide if I like the church. There are things about it I am passionate about and at the same time, things about it that frustrate me. There are parts of it that I love and I love nurturing and watching grow, and there are parts of it that I hate and a stabby part of me wants to stab until it drops away and dies. Or bleeds to death.

Church is difficult. I believe in Church. But I don't. There's a post somewhere on that, I think. Probably. It's something I seem to remember ranting over a while ago.

Paul asks us not to forsake the gathering of the saints, so I don't. Until the days that I really need to for sanity's sake.

Church isn't easy. It's messy. Like life. Like all of us. And putting all our messes into one building once a week (or more) is like pulling a tiger's tail and standing there, expecting it not to maul you. I think. I've never pulled a tiger's tail. But I've been in church long enough and hung around churched Christians long enough to see the damage that sometimes ensues. I've seen enough of church splits and church rifts and people leaving en masse, sometimes not to another church (which is not so bad) but to faithlessness. And yet Jesus says that this is how all men will know that we are His disciples - that we love one another. And loving one another means hanging around each other. Usually in the church.

Tall order.
I don't know how to love people. Sometimes being with myself is already more than I can bear.

I live in the tension of a strange dichotomy; of being a conservative charismatic, the most uncharismatic of all charismatics, where the reactionary/conservative part of me makes me cautious in the face of super spiritualism and chasing after the gifts whilst the charismatic part of me seeks a deeper experience of worship and a deeper sense of God's presence.
(As he succinctly puts it: I have seen the gifts used constructively, to build people up, the way they are intended to so I feel positively about them. You have seen them use carelessly and causing harm
so you are skeptical.)
So I remain within this pentecostal church that seems to have lost its roots and power, where bureaucracy seems to have overwhelmed its heart, praying for breakthrough in the worship life of the church, even as I yearn for breakthrough in mine. And in the same breath that I cry "more Lord, release Your spirit over us," I keep my eyes open, afraid to be blindsided by another broad generalisation that "if this doesn't happen for you, you don't have enough faith."

Which shatters me because I do, and yet I don't.

But back to the point about the church. I moved here almost 7 years ago now, and it seems like a very long time. I'd forgotten when I moved so I went back over my blog archives from 2007 - 2008, which I figured was the likely timeframe. I hadn't realised until I reread those posts how unsettled I felt back in the old church. How lost and miserable and uncertain I was. How freeing it was to start anew.

It's not as if I don't still have some of the same issues and hangups with the church now that I did with the previous one. I am, after all, still myself; having grown somewhat, but still imperfect. And yet despite my frustrations, I don't have that same kind of unsettled feeling, of overwhelming anger and bitterness.

I don't know if I like it. But it feels like home. 


  1. I think you summed it up so well how a lot of us feel about churches and our present church we might attend. The church is made up of flawed people who are supposed to try to love each other, serve each other, and spread the good news of Jesus. Often we fail miserably in that, thus like you said split churches, people stopping going to church, etc. I have yet to find the "perfect" church in all the years attending, but if a church feels like home, I think that is a good sign!


    1. I was actually afraid that I was the only one who felt that way!

  2. Love this post! I think I'm the most conservative of Charismatics too! It's been a while since I've felt at home at a church though after some pretty scarring experiences.

    1. There are some churches which quickly welcome you, but sometimes it takes a long while for a church to feel like home. I hope you find one soon.