Monday, August 04, 2014

"Why are all the churches not doing it for me?"

About 45 minutes into a monthly lunch between two colleagues, Tom turns to Nate and says, "So, Nate, how's 1st Gospel Church working out?"

"Oh, well, we're not going there anymore."

"Really? Just last month you'd only been there 3 weeks and you said, you and Sarah loved it."

"Yeah, well, it turns out we weren't really getting fed there."

"Huh?" uttered Tom, "That's what you said about 2nd Baptist--the church you visited three months ago."

"Yeah, I know," said Nate, "It just seems like the churches around here just don't help us grow spiritually."

"Have you ever thought about going back to the church you went to for two years when you first moved here? I thought you liked that one quite a bit."

"We did, you know, at first. But after being there a few years, no one reached out to us. We hadn't made any friends. And after a while, even the sermons weren't that helpful."

"I thought you said they were the most friendly church in town?" asked Tom.

"Oh, they are. But after you've been there six months, they quit calling. They kinda expect you to start serving, leading, and what not. We just couldn't do anything like that with four kids under twelve, you know?"

"But wasn't there a small group or some Bible studies that were for individuals and couples your age? That seems like a good place to get plugged in."

"Yeah, but they always met on nights we were already committed to field hockey or ballet. The group leaders called every few months or so. They made us feel so guilty, like they didn't understand all the commitments we had, and then they wanted us to do more stuff."

"Maybe the reason you weren't making friends is you were too committed to others things than the various church activities?"

"Yeah, maybe. But if they really cared about us, they would have asked us when we were available and scheduled activities then. We were so sad to leave. We could just tell they didn't care."

"Had you ever considered hosting a Bible study in your home on a night you were available?"

"We would you know, if our kids were a bit older, but it's just not the time in life for something like that. We're looking for other things right now."

"I see," responded Tom scratching his chin, "So, what are you looking for then?"

"I think the same thing everyone wants. We want a church that feels like family, teaches us about God, and has great ministries for both kids and adults."

"I'm surprised no church in the area has at least something close to that."

"Me too," said Nate, "It's really frustrating."

"Hey Nate?"

"Yeah, Tom."

"Have you ever considered that each of these breakups might be about you?"

"What are you saying?"

"Well, let me think. There was your family and 1st Gospel Church. There was your family and 2nd Baptist Church. There was your family and your first church. It seems like the similarity in all these church problems is your family. You're the only common denominator."


Sharon Sparks said...

Yep. Growing requires effort, sacrifice, and prioritizing. And that's all stuff we have to do, not the church.

brookshanes said...

@Sharon: growing requires herculean effort. But it's not yours. You will become if you are not already, a very sad moralist, and others will accuse you of being legalistic and unloving.

@Matt: The commonality among all problems which we declare is, of course, us. It always is. No need to lay it down hard on Nate. I understand the post is perhaps a venting of frustration, or even simply irony. May I suggest we push forward in the gospel to give freedom to "Nate," and even to "Tom," by declaring the God who loves so much he died for them. To Nate, this gives freedom to not be affiliated with a church but to love the church and watch where that love goes. To Tom, this gives freedom to watch Nate leave organized church and discover the freedom in prayer and faithful love toward Nate. Pastors need volunteers and get jaded when people attend without volunteering. That does not mean that the pastor is not the problem. Visiting 3 churches and not enjoying any? That does not mean he is wrong. He's not your worry, because he's not in your church. And if you think he is your concern, becuase he's your Brother, then he *is* in a church. He's in your church, and why isn't anyone welcoming him as a brother without strings attached? It's not grace or truth. There are no breakups, by the way. There is only disillusion. He needs to hear the grace and truth of Jesus becoming part of *his* life before he's going to feel like becoming a part of anyone else's life.

Matt Proctor said...

Brooks, thanks for complementing the post with some gospel reflections.

But yes, the tale is one of satire and irony to reveal possible heart problems. And yes, the solution is only found in Christ alone.

brookshanes said...

As in preaching, if what we say or write ever gives an impression that it's up to us to make our lives complete, and we have to get out there and do more stuff to get it done, then we have not only distracted from the gospel, but we have given the impression that Christianity is all about becoming a good person. Your post gave me the impression, ironically, that you are all about people not giving enough contribution to getting their lives right. I was surprised to read it and leave with that impression, so I commented.