Some of you may have followed my blog and have felt my pain of how hard it is for me to find “my church”.
The situation at the moment is that I am annoyed for various reasons.
And I find that very sad, because some people may look for excuses not to go to church and therefore, they find something that they disapprove of in every church they visit…
Me, I found more than one thing in every church as well, even so severe factors that I wasn’t able to stay, but I don’t even want to wander around and not have a church home – and I actually LIKE going to church and sometimes I’ve even stayed for too long in a church, because I wanted it to become my home so bad… and the result was hurt…
That was the last church I had been attending for a few weeks… the brethren were very friendly, yes, but also very demanding and corrective if you know what I mean – not very outspokenly so, but in a firm manner nevertheless – and I should probably not say brethren, but mainly sisters, because the women in this church told me what to do on more than one occasion. Starting from where to sit! Lovingly, but also very firmly – if you don’t want to see the benevolence in it, you would call it “encroachingly”… don’t get me wrong, I want to grow and change according to what GOD wants me to become, I really do!
And as much as I want that, almost as much do I NOT want to grow into something which I believe is NOT godly or NOT obey a rule which I think not GOD, but humans made…
I will give you an example:
the dress code.
The bible has a few scriptures about how women should dress regarding style and also head covering and jewellery. And that they should not dress like men (and vice versa).
So far, so good.
Before I came to this church, I had misinterpreted the scripture about the head covering, I had done some research a while ago and I had found an opinion which was convinced that the hair is the covering of the woman.
If you follow this opinion, the scripture of the head covering doesn’t make any sense though – I came to the conclusion after prayer and asking THE HOLY SPIRIT to guide me that GOD wants us to cover our heads when praying or worshipping HIM.
And since I came to that conclusion, I do cover my head, even at home most of the time, when I am praying or reading the bible or praising HIM.
What I didn’t do, is buy or wear a hat, let alone one that looks like the ones every sister in this church is wearing. It is almost like a uniform… me, I wore shawls and the african head coverings made of cloth…
Next is the modesty of the apparel.
Does it have to be a long skirt or dress?
Me, I don’t believe so.
Does it even have to be a dress or skirt at all times?
Me, I don’t believe so.
Plus, I am not allowed to wear dresses or skirts at my workplace and I want to be able to come to my church directly from work and I KNOW that MY FATHER loves me for who I am and not for what I wear, because this is the true point, isn’t it?
We women are not supposed to wear provocative clothing or seductive make up and I don’t.
I do like to wear earrings though, mostly because I don’t want to look like a weirdo or a quaker, I want to attract people to Christianity, not alienate them!
And that was frowned at and looked at – they didn’t need to say anything.
I mean, if women were not allowed to wear trousers at all and men not allowed to wear dresses at all, then all the traditional african men’s garments, which are made like dresses would be an abomination to GOD???
And all women who wear any kinds of trousers would not be able to please HIM?
Does anyone ever consider that during the times when the bible was written, trousers were not even invented?
Me, I believe we must sometimes interpret the bible literally and sometimes, we must put it into context plus translate the context into our present time.
And when I wear trousers as a woman, that is not the same as dressing like a man.
This is just one aspect.
And then there is the doctrine.
Doctrine for doctrine’s sake.
For me, my life and my Christianity and my worship is about JESUS, not about doctrinal disputes.
When it comes to a point where this or that is not acceptable, even though both positions can be found in the bible and are not even truly contradicting each other, that’s the exact point where you lost me, because I am not even interested in how any human would interpret the bible, when I have a question about it, I pray and ask THE HOLY SPIRIT for guidance and wisdom, which is by the way the biblical way to do it… and then, I know what I need to know.
No wisdom of any man, regardless of what and who they are, is higher than the wisdom of THE HOLY SPIRIT and HE is where I go for answers.
Yes, it is true that the bible says that we should obey our pastors and leaders and at the same time, it also says that we must be aware of false teachers and I have not yet found a pastor whom I trust 100% so that I would be able to submit myself to him. May be I am difficult and too picky and every pastor will say that what I am doing is wrong, but hey, if you look at my past you may understand why I am a bit cautious and critical and must by any means avoid to be anywhere near false doctrine…
I read something on the website of a church that I really liked as a rule:
In Christian tolerance to all the denominations of Christian faith “In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.
I like this very, very much and it makes me really fond of this church!
I mean every church and even every single believer believes they have the truth and the way they are doing it and believing it and interpreting it is the (only) right way.
To be honest, when I look at “us” Christians, the way we are always “holier than thou” – and that goes for ALL of us, including me, it is pretty bad, if not disgusting and it is almost so alienating that someone who came in would be so alienated that they would want to leave and that rightly so… some are worse than others though.
And some are pleasantly relaxed and warm without being intrusive – there IS a pleasant way to welcome newcomers or visitors!
What I hate for instance is when they make you stand up, that is NOT how you make someone comfortable!
And then the “hunt” for your address and phone number, sometimes it starts even before you have truly entered the door, but that has only happened to me once, THANK GOD!, but it was a really annoying experience today:
It is Sunday and I went on an adventure to try a new church, at least I was going to…
It was a ministry which was praised in the press for being especially well suited for offenders and since you all know that I work in the field and am very interested in saving their souls and helping them turn their lives around, I had been wondering for a while where I could send someone if they asked me which church to attend after their release…
They had announced a big vigil for today and had rented a large event venue.
When I got there, I almost didn’t go inside- the music was very loud and it was very, very contemporary…ok, fair enough, I understand that if you want to reach young people, you may have to be a bit more modern, on the other hand, I also know that the devil is the master of seduction and demonization via music and these vibes didn’t feel godly to me – perhaps because I was into r&b, soul, funk and rap myself before I got saved, but these tunes spoke to my FLESH – I went in anyway… they stopped me at the entrance (yes, stopped, not welcomed) and wanted me to fill out a card with all my details, a girl whos name I couldn’t understand, because it was too loud – I told her that I would not fill this out, but would go inside to have a look first. Which I did and wanted to sit down, but there were many ushers who all had an idea of where I should sit – I was told I should go more to the front, which I didn’t want, because I wasn’t even sure if I would stay. I asked the girl if I could sit here and she said “no”, they had to fill up the spaces in the front for the cameras. I thanked her and I left. Another young girl came running after me and said that she saw that I just came and left and I told her that I got offended and that I would not go back…
MY GOD was not in this house… what they did there, was not worship HIM – and I was so alienated and I simply knew that I don’t belong there in this “church”.
As different as all the churches were that I visited, in most of them did I feel the SPIRIT OF GOD being present or even moving – not in this one.
But that may just be me…
Some “houses of god” may be places where someone is being worshipped, but many of them are not houses of MY FATHER.
In some churches, not this one or at least not that I know of – they tell you when you first come that this is YOUR FATHER’s house, in fact, I’ve heard this many times.
Well, if it really is MY father’s house, then I should feel at home and should be able to behave like I am at home – am I right?
I don’t know about you, but in my father’s house, the house where I grew up, I can sit where I want.
I can wear what I am wearing.
I can go to the toilet when I need to.
I can eat when I am hungry.
I can even skip meals or stay away and not attend a meal when I have something else to do.
I can eat at a friend’s house and still be welcome for the next meal.
I can do all these things and many more.
I can say many things that I believe or think or learned without being shunned or ostracized.
I can disagree with anybody as long as I am polite and there will be no fight about it and I can still continue to live there.
I am really wondering if any of the churches I’ve been to, even the ones stating that they are “MY FATHER’s house” fulfill any of these criteria which would make them what they say they are.
Most of them did quite the contrary of what would make a family home a family home.
In many places, there is a pressure almost immediately when you come to give all your details and they will start stalking you as soon as you attended one or two services.
And I am not exaggerating here!
The last church I attended more than once (and I did manage to give my number only at my second visit, but it was hard work!), I attended for one week and 2 Sundays and the following week, I didn’t go to any services during the week. Before the week was over, 6 people including the pastor had called me or messaged me and I only had been introduced to 1 of them and the pastor – in my world, that is not friendly and caring, but spooky and stalking!
Am I paranoid?
Perhaps a little… but honestly, would you feel welcome or haunted???
And then the last church I left, I had attended there for about 2 months…and the stalking and calling is absolutely beyond any description – to be honest, they are not behaving like a church of CHRIST, they are behaving like a cult where you can never, ever leave… and some factors even tell me that they are just that…
I am glad I left and for the time being, having 2 churches chasing me, my phone is on “do not disturb” 24/7 for now until further notice and everyone has to go through the mailbox if they want to speak to me, church or not.
Sad, isn’t it?
What is even more sad in my view, is that many conservative Christians will think that I am the one that is off and that I should sit where they tell me to sit (which is weirdly enough almost in every church in the front row when you are new – why on earth would you want to sit there when you are new, where everyone can see you and you can see nobody??????), wear what they wear, look like they look, even have children when you are a women even though you don’t – and so on…
To be honest, in my biological father’s house, there was also a lot of criticism, restraint and encroachment happening – so why on earth would I want to join a church where the same is going on and now I am even getting old and still being patronized?
I am looking for a church where I WANT to attend every service, not because I am expected to or scared of all the 10 million phone calls if I don’t, but because they are so good and because they preach a good word and because the brethren are so nice that I WANT to go and see them.
Isn’t this the way it is supposed to be?
What happened to “come to me, if you are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest”?
Or to “love one another”?
My experience is more like “if you don’t come, we will haunt you down and if you don’t believe and do all we do, we will make you!” and we will only love you IF and when you do as we say…
To me, that’s not what JESUS is about and thus not my theology… these houses are not the houses of MY FATHER and I don’t want to move in there, don’t even want to go there anymore – let alone would I want to bring someone there and that’s what they all want us to do, invite and bring a friend.
Me, I won’t. Not if I am not even comfortable there myself.
And in the end, I worship GOD, not a pastor, not a doctrine, but GOD, MY FATHER- and if HE is not the protagonist in a place, if all they do and say is not mainly and first and foremost about HIM, then I don’t belong there.
Perhaps that’s just me, but if I don’t find a church where I can be comfortable and not freak out all the time, then I will stay at home more often and worship MY GOD here within my 4 walls and pray in my prayer closet.
But I will keep looking for MY FATHER’s house…
I hope and pray that this will inspire, heal and bless you and that THE LORD will bless you richly in all areas of your life, that HE will keep you and shine HIS face upon you and give you peace. In JESUS’ name I pray. Amen.