Buckle up, y’all. I’m about to compare church to a relationship and some of you are going to find what I have to say really TOUGH. It will be okay and you’ll get through it. Just have an open mind while you read, that’s all I ask. Hahaha I find this super ironic considering I never wanted to blog about relationships again.
In my past blog I never had to think of topics. It was about my dating experiences. Go on a date: boom. Blog about the train wreck. It was that simple. I’ve been praying about this blog for a while now. Months, actually. Mostly because… this is yet another thing to fit into my schedule and PLAN. Oh that dreaded word- I know most of you hate it. God has me convinced that he will lead me to topics. I’m not fooled, though. I know he is going to challenge me at some point, I’m just not sure when.
Tonight I prayed and this instantaneously popped into my mind. I had jotted several topics down and even asked a few of my close friends whose opinions I respect highly what they’d enjoy hearing my view… take… story on. Whatever you want to call it. None of those are what came to me.
The original thought that popped up was: so many people have told me lately: “I should probably go to church. I stopped going because I didn’t really like my church. I used to, but it just became lackluster.” Or “I’m really considering leaving my church, it just doesn’t feel right anymore.” Did all of them say it exactly the same way? Of course not- that’s ridiculous. They all have this same context, though.
I genuinely try to be the person who listens without judging and who guides by using God’s word and not my own opinion. In this situation… I can actually use my own personal experience, though. Did I not just tell you all yesterday I was in this same mindset at one point? Maybe for different reasons… but ultimately the same circumstance.
Here, like I had to painfully do to myself, I’m going to have to challenge you and ask… are you partially to blame for your disinterest in church? Let me back way up.
Going to church is not mandatory for your salvation. I just want to be clear before any type of argument ensues. Plenty of people who love Jesus do not attend church. God won’t be angry at you. However, God does require obedience. Hebrews 10:24-25 also clearly tells us not to give up meeting together. If in your busy schedule you can find the time to meet with other Christians and encourage each other, hold each other accountable, fellowship and study the word in the way God wants us to do… and you can do that with obedience, then no- going to church on Sunday is not a formal requirement written in the Bible.
If you cannot promise this to yourself- well you’re with the majority. You’re with that group of us that needs the church to hold us accountable for our actions. None of us are perfect. We all sin. We need to surround ourselves with people who are obediently trying to do the right thing who can hold us accountable for our actions. We need to be in a setting where we can study God’s word diligently and learn it’s meaning together so not to misinterpret it.
Let’s step back again. For those of you who say church just isn’t working for you… I have some questions. What IS IT about the church that isn’t working for you? This is where I’m going to compare the church to a relationship. Please, Lord, help people to understand where I’m going with this so not to be offended. Is there instability in the leadership of the church? Has the community of the church become toxic in some way? Are there doctrinal issues that have surfaced causing you to question this body of believers? These are all very valid reasons to leave your church… but not to leave church in general. Trust me when I say: do not blame all churches for one church’s errors. I missed out on 10 years of building a relationship with God because of that mistake. Please learn from mine.
My guess with a lot of you is… that it isn’t a big “thing,” it’s just something small… something blah. It’s like a long dating relationship (believe it or not I’ve actually had those) where one day you just wake up and you realize you want out of it. There was no infidelity or dramatic reason for breaking up. You just realized they aren’t the one for you and the magic dimmed.
If that’s your story, I get it. In my own heart, I’ve felt this too. For me- I don’t feel comfortable in the worship style, gen-xer acting as a millennial to relate to my age group Pastor type of church. Is there anything wrong with that brand of worship? Absolutely not. There are a ton of great people engaging in that community and I love that a new brand of worship has evolved that has attracted a younger generation to the church. My point here is that in the wrong atmosphere we can all feel the way you do. Most people in their 20’s and 30’s are being drawn to a stylistic approach of worship. I’m different. Call me an old soul.
In reality we are all looking for the same thing… authentic Christianity, a truer Christianity, we are looking for Jesus. The same Jesus that can be found in all of the strange places he has always been found. In bread, in wine, in baptism, in the word, in suffering, and in community.
A change in the church happens with every generation. It happened 50 years ago when we just needed more of that sweet hymnal singing, it happened 25 years ago when they no longer wanted that and preferred the rock n roll that all of the cool kids were listening to. Not to mention fewer pulpits, more humor, and significantly more hair product. Like we will continue to do 25 years from now when no telling what is in style.
My guess is that a lot of you haven’t grown tired of church. You have only grown tired of your church experience because you’re on the line of needing something different than where you’ve been. Something that fits you, and your beliefs more so than where you are. Something that makes you feel comfortable. Just as the right partner makes you feel comfortable. None of this is the church’s fault, or yours. Tastes change, romances fade, and without some measure of progress… relationships will end.
This leads me to the next question… what is it about YOU that isn’t working for the church? This question REALLY hits home for me. So I’m going to ask you the same HARD questions I had to ask myself. How’s your heart? Really. Look inside yourself and take a while to examine your attitude about the church, about your beliefs, even about your expectations. I’m asking you this because just like in a relationship, our hearts can grow bitter. Maybe in the beginning everything was flowers and happiness. You were in the honeymoon season and every sermon genuinely spoke to you! All of the music was spot-on and the community, focus on the Bible, outreach, children’s ministry, missions- everything- was like nothing you have ever seen before! Then… duhn duhn duhn (yeah that was a sound effect- a terrible one) the honeymoon phase ended. You drifted into a regular old relationship that you have to work to maintain. You have to work and make the conscious decision to keep that relationship vibrant.
So you… the ones struggling with your church and the ones who have left the church just because of the things I’ve explained above… would you entertain the idea that maybe there isn’t an issue with the church? Maybe there is a staleness in your heart? I had to entertain that idea… because my heart was stale. This isn’t an attack on your character. It is simply an educated guess based on a well-worn road where people become enchanted by the Sunday show, feel like they’re engaging in the community, never actually know others or allow themselves to be known, then wonder why they’re bored with this place.
Well DUH! They’re bored because you can’t just be a stagnant spouse and expect to have a marriage that is successful. You have to PARTICIPATE. You have to laugh together, fight, apologize, and remember why it is you fell in love in the first place. Can I get an Amen?
This leads me to my final question I want to ask you… what is the point of church?
The reason you fell in love with and were/are drawn to church is because church is the bride of Christ. Yep, y’all it’s THAT kind of relationship. It “ain’t” one of consumerism, or catchphrases, or meaningless logos. It’s one of a marital bond. To put it more beautifully than anything I could EVER write:
“HUSBANDS, LOVE YOUR WIVES, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER TO MAKE HER HOLY, CLEANSING HER BY THE WASHING WITH WATER THROUGH THE WORD, AND TO PRESENT HER TO HIMSELF AS A RADIANT CHURCH, WITHOUT STAIN OR WRINKLE OR ANY OTHER BLEMISH, BUT HOLY AND BLAMELESS. IN THIS SAME WAY, HUSBANDS OUGHT TO LOVE THEIR WIVES AS THEIR OWN BODIES. HE WHO LOVES HIS WIFE LOVES HIMSELF. AFTER ALL, NO ONE EVER HATED THEIR OWN BODY, BUT THEY FEED AND CARE FOR THEIR BODY, JUST AS CHRIST DOES THE CHURCH—FOR WE ARE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY … FOR THIS REASON A MAN WILL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE UNITED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO WILL BECOME ONE FLESH. THIS IS A PROFOUND MYSTERY—BUT I AM TALKING ABOUT CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.” (EPHESIANS 5:25-32)
So even though I said earlier that it does not directly command us in the Bible to go to church, this is why we go… because Jesus says the church matters. He loves the church and you love him. So even if you feel a disconnect with your church, or you’re further than disconnected and you have actually left the church. I encourage you to search yourself. It’s up to you and God whether you should stay and rekindle and repair the situation or whether you should mourn the loss and move on. I’m hopeful that my story will help you to see that while you may be quitting on – or may have already quit YOUR church, that you shouldn’t quit on THE church.
Take it from thousands of years of Christians- the church is still relevant. It may look different and feel dysfunctional at times. It may even lose its footing, but it is still the best option for finding and maintaining a relationship with Jesus Christ.
May we always remember how beautiful the bride is.