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Can You Hear Me Now?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I Think I'm Flunking Church

I’m up early and didn’t sleep well last night. I know its God. I know how He works with me. I know how He nudges. I recognize His voice in my dreams. I recognize His hand as He pushes me.

Yesterday was also restless. Actually I’ve been restless for awhile now. Ironically, my husband is reading “The Rest of God” and as he read me a passage from his current chapter yesterday it gave me a bit of peace I’ve been lacking lately.

We met with our pastor yesterday. We have decided we must change churches. This was not a decision easily reached, particularly for me. My husband, as a new Christian (within the last five years) has been to three churches, all very different. I keep telling him what it is I need and what I believe church should be…I’m just not sure it exists. As I reflect, I also believe this is one of the reasons I ‘de-churched’ initially, so many years ago.

I love our current church. I have loved serving there. As a ‘start-up’ church there are always challenges, but nothing too great for God. We just came to the conclusion that the theology was not in line with what we believe. It became an insurmountable obstacle. I quit going altogether as my husband continued with his service commitments.

I’m not completely clueless; I know there is no ‘perfect church’ this side of heaven. I’m just not completely convinced I can realistically ‘do church’ this side of heaven. I KNOW this is what God wants…church; community, relationship, service, etc. I just don’t know if the organization of CHURCH is what He intended.

I want to thank each of you for the input from my last post. I won’t bore you with all the details. I honestly just wanted to say that this is a very difficult place to be right now. I also want to assure my local ‘readers’ whom I went to church with, that I don’t have any ill-will towards this church or anyone in it. I received an email that reflected something I did not intend. I pray there is forgiveness and perhaps some understanding after this post.

The bottom line is I cannot align my beliefs with the pulpit and it would be unfair to all of us to continue in this position. My prayer is that this church grows and continues its Missional desires and that the people reached feel the incredible love we did.

As I reflect and try to keep from being swallowed by feelings of ‘flunking church’, I realize that just like in each of my personal ‘stone of remembrance’…we take with us so much from this experience and that is what I have to CHOOSE to think on as we set out to find a new church home.

More importantly I will remember:
He was…
He is…
He is to come!

Prayers of Godly guidance and peace are welcome.


Sally said...

you can't flunk church! God grades in his own mysterious way- we all get an A! Because we are all loved- he takes into account our questions and difficulties.....he covers our sins, his grace is sufficient!

swandive said...

be faithful, know.
blessings dear one.

Diane said...

I SO agree with Sally.....still, I love the title of your post.

And yet, I don't underestimate the pain of this struggle. Leaving a church is a difficult thing...finding the new one is more daunting.

Our prayers are with you...may you find just the place that God wants you to be. May you feel peace in knowing that He goes with you...He leads you in fact!


Shalee said...

What Diane said... literally.

And no matter where you hang your church hat, the important part to remember is that we're all family. That may make you feel less like a failure and more like a winner, with lots of cousins and such!

Kelly said...

Wow! I'm glad I found your blog...(I found it on 'Seek First His Kingdom')because I am going through something very similar. My biggest question is; "How do you KNOW it's the right church for YOU?"
My husband & I are currently in the process of beginning membership classes to the first church we attended since moving to this city. The doctrine is good, all bible-based, VERY organized, down-to-earth senior pastor, but I keep seeing SO much 'religion' in the members. You know, saying the 'right' things, doing the 'right' things, but very little realness that I've observed thus far.
My decision to pursue membership is so that I can operate in the gifts of the spirit and not feel like such an outsider. It's seems legalistic, but I understand why they want to 'convert' people into members... I think.
Anyway, I'm rambling, but I just wanted you to know that I feel your struggle, it's a difficult decision.
I know God will lead you.

God Bless.

Rachelle said...

Oh, dear. This topic can keep me going for days. I respect where you are and I know you've given it a lot of thought and prayer. I also sympathize with the feeling of flunking church... and I know how vulnerable it feels when you voice these thoughts because you KNOW everyone is going to put in their two cents worth.

When we moved from CA to CO, we went to three churches (6-12 mos each) before settling on a fourth that we've been at for about 2-1/2 years now. It's not perfect... in fact, I still have fantasies of leaving and finding the "perfect" church. But churches are made of human beings, and you know what that means... no perfection can be found.

The one thing I came to believe over the last few years -- and this is true for ME but not necessarily applicable to anyone else -- is that I no longer think there is some specific church where "God wants you to be" like it's some big mystery that He is hiding from you and wants to make you sweat until you find it. I think God wants us to worship in community; equally important, he wants us to SERVE in community. I think he wants us to find a community in which we can worship and serve, then just get involved and DO IT. After our multi-church journey, I felt like God was telling me, "Quit messing around and whining that everything's not perfect. Find a church, and get involved. Period. You're not helping anyone -- not yourself, not Me, not the needy -- as long as you are blowing in the wind going from church to church."

So that was MY experience. With that revelation, I began praying that God would help me to appreciate our new church for all its positives. Miraculously, I went from not liking it at all, to seeing the Truth that was being preached there and the Love in the members, being shown through concrete activities that help our city. I truly see it differently now.

I pray that you'll find a church that's right for you and your husband, and that you'll be able to serve and be content there!

(By the way, The Rest of God was one of my very favorite nonfiction books last year. GREAT book.)

Dawn said...

This is a tough one, because I've never been in this position. All I know is that if I were looking for the perfect church and joined what I thought was it, it would no longer perfect because I was no there. Hmmm. But - being a p.k., I've stayed with the denomination I was raised in. I love this local church, the church international, warts and all. We've hung in through lots of trials and tribulations, and the church has thrived through many pastoral disasters and whole groups of people leaving to find a more perfect place, or to go with a pastor, or to object to a pastor, on and on and on. But I tend to be content with as little change as possible.

I trust that you will find a place of contentment and fulfillment. Maybe an established church where you can rest and soak for awhile instead of doing all the work of a start-up. Just a thought. Sounds like you're a bit burned out.

Love you and your heart. Wish we could sit and talk.

Overwhelmed! said...

I pray you find the "right" church soon. It's so important to do so!

GiBee said...

K -- don't give up. God will direct you to the church where HE wants you to be. It may not be everything YOU are looking for, but really, you will find a church home. Just keep seeking his face. And again, don't give up, because it's easy to become used to "not going to church" and not being involved in ministry.

Call me if you need to chat. Or vent. Or chat and vent.