Sunday, March 03, 2013

I don't wanna go to church~

I've been a weekly (sometimes 3-4 x weekly) church attender for greater than forty years.  Until the last few, then I became one of those Christians who don't attend church.  I have to say, after a gentle admonition to get myself back to church, most people have been kind and not made the leap to put me in backslidden status.  I say with no sarcasm, thank you.  The fear of such a label has been the only condemnation I have experienced.  That aside, my Sundays have been unbelievably sweet.  The meaning of Sabbath has truly been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit as I have watched the sun rise and felt the realness of Emanuel, God with me. Rarely I would find some program on television and join their service from my couch.  Often I would start my morning by putting praise and worship and good ol' fashioned gospel music on The Music Channel and enter into His courts as I made my coffee.  Mostly, I would sit quietly in contemplation of a scripture or just in a spirit of waiting for Him.  I have felt the love of my Savior for me in a more personal way than I have in all of my life. 
What of the Mr. during this personal time of "home church?"  He continued to attend the last church we had attended together.  A church, frankly, that I just didn't like.  I carried on with joining him there until I felt the release of the Lord and I told Dean that there was little of spiritual growth occurring in me for my time sitting in the auditorium.  I'm sure he was disappointed on some level but in truth, he played in the band and our time actually being together at church was a matter of minutes every week despite his commitment of hours.  Driving alone, sitting alone and twenty minutes sitting side by side didn't seem to make true sense anymore when the alone time at home was filling my heart and spirit with such peace and joy. 
So, I have been "out of church" for a few years.
Just before Christmas, the Lord impressed upon Dean that the time had come (was overdue) for him to separate himself from his church and to re establish our time of worship together.  So he shared with me his master plan for finding a church and I thought, "Oh dear, my sweet quiet time is coming to an end."  Then again, I was in agreement that it was time for him to move on and certainly I should be a part of that process.  I began working on making the transition back into Church Attender and accepting that the Sunday mornings of the last few years were meant to be temporary.  I won't pretend to have been happy about this.  The Lord, being a gentle Shepherd, has given Dean a taste of that quiet Sunday morning feeling and allowed me a reprieve from church-shopping/seeking/looking.  But now, after the holidays and my surgery, the Mr. has shared that he feels the need to visit some churches.  I was honest and told him I didn't want to but that I would submit myself to the Holy Spirit's instruction and to Dean's leadership.
I told him what things made church less than attractive to me...the driving alone because he goes early and stays late because of his requirements to the band.  Of my thirty years of worshiping alone as he worshiped from the stage.  Of my frustration when after church I would either leave alone or stand around as he tore down equipment and joked with the band and basically, well, honestly, ignored me altogether.  Yes, that was a frustration that was a hurt and also an offense.  It was a truth that made me challenge, "Tell me exactly why you need me in the building while you occupy yourself with everything except me?"  Sometimes these difficult conversations need to be had in order to get on the same page, or at least to know what book the other person is reading.
So this week, we move forward.  We are attending a church just a few blocks away, a Methodist church with a traditional and contemporary service, we'll be joining the latter.
I see challenges in this process.  He is so music-focused, this is his gift and his passion and his love language to God.   I am word-driven.  I hunger for deep truth and challenging teaching.  The scripture, pure and sharper than a two edged sword is God's love language to me.  I have found not that many churches honestly meet both of us in the deep water we desire.  He dislikes Hosanna style worship (well, me too.)  I dislike sermons that feel twisted around series topics when the Word becomes an accessory to an agenda. 
I want to sit at the feet of C.S. Lewis in a quiet old church that smells of mellow wood and lemon oil.
He wants to be immersed in sound and volume.
C.S. Lewis wouldn't like that, I'm sure of it :)
Here we go, both with a little bit of anxiety about what the Lord might require of us.  I don't think we're the only ones with such a challenge.  Frankly, I think church has become a thing far from what it was intended to be and that Christians make it more complicated that it needs to be.  It is not a measure of dedication to God, the number of hours inside the building.  It is not a signature of the Divine to be loud and to flood the altars every week. It is not a social network or a country club or an identity.  It is only what reaches into the soul so deeply that it overflows into the world and covers the scars of sin and fear that is worth pursuing.  It does not start at the pulpit or in the songs, it starts at the throne of God and pours into the hearts of men and reaches out through the sermons and the music.  We have inverted the order of things. 
Now, I take what I have learned and felt and submit myself to the Lord's leading.
I'll let you know where the Mr., Jesus and I end up.


Jada's Gigi said...
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Jada's Gigi said...

please do...and don't feel too lonely about it if you can't find a good match...lots and lots of believers can't....mostly I feel that typical traditional church is like 2nd grade...perfect for ..well...2nd graders...and I have...something like a high school diploma at least....I just can't do it.

Trish said...
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Sara said...

Cheryl, I will let you know how the search progresses! Trish, I'm sorry that it seems to you that I am sitting idly in my home, not touching lives and squandering God's gifts. Please be assured that my heart is at perfect peace and God provides opportunities every day for me to reach a hurting world outside the walls of a church building.

Trish said...

Sara please forgive me? I know that your heart is right and that you touch lives at work everyday. I think that you and Dean have super God given talents and God has his hands on your lives! I love you!

Margie said...

I love this post. #1 because its honest and true. Just like you :)

I will be praying that God finds a place perfectly suited for both of you, because God speaks both your love languages <3