I have made church my faith. I have replaced having a relationship with God with being involved. I have thrown myself into youth groups and Bible studies and volunteer jobs… …and it has broken me.
Somewhere in the midst of being at church every time the doors were open and raising my hand every time they asked, I’ve lost something. I have been so enamored with God’s people that I stopped talking to Him.
It’s been a slow process of getting to this place. When I first came to Christ in high school, His people welcomed me and cocooned me through the tumultuous late high school years. I came to His house and I found Love, and I found people who became like family to me. We sang together and prayed together and I felt Him near.
Everywhere I went this proved to be the case, and I fell in love with it. The people made church for me. When doctrinal questions came up, grey areas where I wasn’t sure I liked my church’s answer, I consoled myself with the thought that surely the people I loved didn’t believe that, and I overlooked it.
But as I got to know the ins and outs of a church by serving as a regular volunteer, I saw the nastier underbelly of how church works, and it broke the spell. Suddenly theology wasn’t just some words in a church membership manual. It was on the ground, and the particular theology I saw was hurting people. I sat in church Sunday after Sunday and felt empty. I didn’t feel God the way I used to. In between Sundays I barely thought of Him at all.
I know all the right words to say, and I told my small group I was wrestling with my faith, but in reality I wasn’t wrestling at all. I was breaking myself away from the church, subtly and slowly. I couldn’t sit there anymore.
So now I am in the wilderness. I believe that we were created to be in community, but right now I’m not looking for a community. I’ve had the community, and I know I still have it if I want it. But I’m too susceptible to group-think, too liable to get caught back up in the rush of doing. I’m looking for capital-t Truth and I feel like I need to figure it out alone right now.
On Sunday I visited a new church, and the pastor said all the right things in her prayer and in her sermon. In short order she addressed every social value I hold dear that I’d been questioning in other churches, and she espoused the side I’m on. The music felt comfortable to me, and five people introduced themselves to me after the service.
It would be so easy to dive right in, but I don’t think that’s the answer for me right now.
For now I’m clinging to this: There’s a God out there, and I believe that He is Love. I can live that out the best I know how, and I hope one day, I will again look beside me and encounter Him there. But I have made church my faith and it’s not working anymore.