The Church. It’s the worldwide, collective Body of Christ. It’s the steepled buildings dotted all over my town. It’s the individuals who go to those steepled buildings. It’s community. It’s fellowship. It’s a lot of things.
When I think of the Church, I mostly think of organized religion. I think of sermons and Sunday school and weekly Bible study meetings. I think of what I’ve been a part of for my entire life, in one form or another. And my heart feels heavy, because if I’m honest with myself, I realize that church has always been the one place where I try really hard to prove my faith. At church, I feel the greatest need to say the right thing, instead of the honest thing, or to make sure everyone around me knows my walk with God is solid, when it reality sometimes it feels like it’s really shaky.
But it’s also the one place where people care about my faith, where people ask me questions about it. Outside of church, and outside of my close circle of friends and my family, I don’t really get that anywhere else. So even though I feel frustrated with the Church more often than I feel peace there, I can’t bring myself to abandon it. It’s my only outlet for Christian fellowship right now.
But part of me wants nothing more than to leave it all in the dust. To say a final “screw you” to the Church, and join with God in personal quiet time rather than collective worship and sermon-listening that often feels like grasping at straws. Part of me wonders if the Church is irredeemable, if there’s nothing left about Her that I can cling to and say, “This is why I drag myself out of bed and sit through sermons on Sunday mornings”.
But the other part of me wonders if I’m just not trying hard enough. If I’m not doing enough to put myself in the shoes of the churchgoers around me, if I’m doing what I accuse them of doing, which is failing to see the world through my eyes. Part of me wonders if I ought to be doing more to overcome my introverted personality and try harder to make some real, deep, authentic friendships like the ones I enjoyed in college—friendships that I believe church is supposed to exist to create.
Part of me wonders if the problem isn’t with church, but with me.
I desire Church. I resent Church. I need Church. I am bitter towards Church. I am desperate for Church.
I feel all these things for the Church, and these feelings can be so, so hard to sort out.
But I’m getting up this Sunday, and I’m trying again at the church I thought I’d left, because some of the people there are reaching out to me in the way that Christians are supposed to. And maybe that’s reason enough—for now—to stay.