Reading blogs gives me a chance to step into the lives of others. I often come across many Christians who bash gathering in church for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are painfully legitimate and some are simply unwilling to stay and make a difference because they come to be served, instead of serve. I’ve heard all kinds of different reasons for not coming to church.
In a conversation over this very topic, my husband caused me to recall why these blogs bother me so much. A lot of my family are Mormon, Agnostic, and Atheist. My husband asked, “If there are so many Mormons, what chased them away from Christian churches?”
I gave him many reasons. People are looking to belong, I said, but ultimately another thought slipped into my mind. In my blog-hopping, I have never found a Mormon putting down their own church as much as I have seen Christians put down their churches and the people in them. We’re chasing away our own people by our actions and good intentions.
Yes, there are cruel people in Christian churches.
Yes, there are cliques.
Yes, we can squabble over music taste and all the unimportant things when we should focus on God and His Word.
Yes, there are still pharisees in church.
Yes, not everyone will agree with our testimony.
…But there are still good people in Church.
In reading the Bible, I don’t think church is going to change anytime soon. But if making a difference were easy, would Jesus’ atonement been required? God could have given up on us, too. We’re such a ornery bunch.
I, too, have been hurt by people in church and yet amazingly I still attend because of an overwhelming love I have for the people in my church family. I don’t lump the good with the bad. No matter where we go we will encounter the same vices we see in church.
Church hurts because we hold Christians to an impossibly high standard. We are forgiven sinners, but still we sin. If you have been hurt by church people and that stops you from being used by God, then by all means take a break. Grief and anger need to get out.
In Jim Henderson’s, The Resignation of Eve, he talks about a woman in church called, Kathleen…
“Unlike some who stop going to church altogether, Kathleen is no quitter. ‘My family and I are currently waiting for God to show us how and where to find fellowship with a community of believers. It’s our desire to find people who are willing to dialogue, listen to each other, and learn to love each other in the same way Jesus loves us.’ She’s even been able to see a silver lining in all the difficulty. ‘This journey has actually put us in contact with many nonbelievers whom we’ve been able to minister to. We show them a ‘nonreligious’ way of walking with and loving God. I am blessed.’ For now, she says she is simply on a long hiatus, waiting to find the right kind of church.”
A friend of mine told me once she took a break from church that lasted years, but when she returned her perspective was re-shaped and she was more resilient. She is the most effective person I know in church, leading Bible studies, writing, and influencing women city-wide.
We can easily lose sight of priorities when people are hurting us. We don’t look in the mirror enough, because we’re too busy pointing our fingers at others. This is not to say some reasons for leaving one church are not legitimate. Gossip, bullying and abuse can make for some difficult circumstances.
Let me remind you though that Church won’t save you.
Only by the blood of Jesus can you be saved. Whether you attend church regularly or irregularly, or do not attend at all, if you believe in Jesus’ atonement you are saved. Meditating in the Bible and seeking Him in prayer are ways you can find the change you seek within.
But let’s remember that our words and actions have the power to chase away a believer or unbeliever and send them to a church who will gladly serve that persons felt needs and say they are Christian in order to build their congregation. I have said it before and I will say it again: if all the good people leave, who is left to change a church and make it “authentic?”