Like many I’m sure, I have considered leaving my church.
For anyone reading this who goes to the same church as me: panic not, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for the foreseeable future.
“The worship isn’t free enough”
“The prayer isn’t often enough”
“The talks arent applicable enough”
“The service isn’t long enough” (you can tell I don’t have kids to sort and a dinner waiting to be cooked #studentlife !)
“The mentoring isn’t sharp enough”
“The community is too fragmented”
“The coffee isn’t good enough”
For any other christians out there, I’m sure you could find people in your own church who could say exactly the same things about an entirely different place and group of people.
Those comments have cropped up in my mind over the past 5(ish) years, multiple times. It may have been because I was having a bad day, or week. It may have been because they were genuinely areas that the church was still figuring out – I can assure you the coffee has definitely got better. It may have been because I had an unloving grudge against someone personally, or because I was struggling in my own faith at the time.
Whatever the reason, it was not gracious. It was not loving of me to think those thoughts and dwell on them. It was not caring for me to pick holes in a community that has been so caring and loving towards me. It was not helpful for me to put a mental barrier between myself and a church that I could serve so well by being a part of it.
Over a year ago now, I went a couple of months away from church. I was abroad with a summer job and didn’t have my weekly base to come together and explore faith in my usual way. I remember returning from that trip so appreciative of the churches I have called family over the years, and so grateful for the leadership and people’s dedication to church, that I have been a beneficiary of.
We as church, are not only humans coming together, but humans all at different stages of varying journeys towards a destination that takes an entire lifetime to reach.
It’s not ordered or tidy, and it was never designed to be.
God created us unique to one another, a wonderful mix of variety and creativity and wants us to live life together as family… doesn’t he have a sense of humour.
I am impatient with my biological family at the best of time, give me a room full of people I have no lawful, societal or biological obligation to stick with and my grace and patience are put to a whole other kind of test.
I could point out flaws and shortfalls left, right and centre, wherever you place me, like it’s no-one’s business – if I choose to.
I have an analytical mind which, on the plus side, means I can always find ways of improving things – the downside however, is that I can always find ways of improving things…
I have a real heart for church done well. For church living out its purpose as God intended. For church bursting beyond it’s walls with outrageous love and wise leadership. From one-to-one relation, to influencing a nation .
Far too easily, however, I slip into the mindset of “this church just isn’t using me well/equipping me well/nurturing me well/investing in me well etc. etc. etc.”
It’s a deadly spiral of placing my needs at the centre of my decisions regarding my church. Putting the protection and progression of my personal faith journey as my church’s responsibility – when it’s not. When I chose to become a Christian, I embarked on a journey of personally pursuing a relationship with God. A journey of personal commitment to learning about God and honouring him in the way I live my life. I did not begin a journey of being spoon-fed by my church, the perfect recipe for being a perfect, well rounded, unshakable christian.
As church family we do not come together to continually receive – being mentored, uplifted and forgiven. We come together as humanity seeking to personally know and serve God; and amongst the most imperfect, to mentor, uplift and forgive one another in our stumbling journey towards eternal life with the one by whose grace we now live.
To be part of church is to humbly accept that we cannot do this alone, but to maturely recognise that doing it together isn’t effortless.
Anything that involves people is not perfect.
Yet amidst the madness and demands of hundred of people, my church has given me such a wonderful place in such a diverse community. It has demonstrated to me the importance of discipleship and a continual posture of wanting to learn more. It has shown me servant-hearted leadership and true godly wisdom. It has offered me encouragement and equipped me in my development as a speaker. It has allowed me to be able to express myself musically through the worship (even when I was only just beginning as a drummer at age 12). And it has offered me prayer when my own words fail me. It has welcomed me (flaws and all) into its family, to get stuck in.
I sit here , with a new commitment to seeking the moments of perfection in my church family. I seek out that moment where faith is reborn, where joy is shared, where awe is reinspired, where prayer is ministered, where friendship is built, where laughter is heard and where good coffee is sipped. I commit to persevering with grit and determination to love my church with an unconditional love for as long as I am meant to stay and then, wherever I end up after that. To love and encourage it into the full potential God calls it to and to remain teachable to all the lessons I still have to learn.