Going to church is an experience that many enjoy and some do not. Going to church involves getting dressed up (depending on what church you attend - many claim that you can comes as you are), going to celebrate God's word, listen to a pastor talk about the scripture, watch him read from a bible, look at an overhead, point a clicker and discuss things that relate to not only God but our daily lives. Going to church can at times (depending on the church) involve a band, guitar players, keyboard players, singers, drummers, great music, lyrics on the overhead screen and people singing along. If you attend a large church you may get lights and special effects. If you attend a small church you may get an acoustic guitar player, a piano player and maybe a drummer. Or maybe not.
Going to a small church is a difficult experience for many. The congregation typically knows each other. They've attended for years. Many of their children and grandchildren grew up attending the church. They are on a first name basis with the pastor. They know all of the leadership. And everyone knows them. Walking into a small church like that can cause anxiety. Everyone turns to look at you. They want to know who this new strange person is walking into "their church".
The folks in the small churches will always welcome you. They will always say hello at the door. Many times they will direct you to a seat. And then as typical, the discussion begins. Who is this new person? Where did they come from? Why did they pick "our church" to attend? And many questions that many times for long periods of time will go unanswered. People talk. They will ask questions. They want to know.
Going to a larger church can also be a different experience. You can get lost. You may get welcomed at the door, have a half dozen smiling people say hello. And then when you enter the sanctuary, you're left on your own to find a seat. You may wander down the aisles in wonder as you see the large stage, the projection screens, the full setup of band equipment, multiple microphones and the background music piped into the sanctuary. A large church can hold as many as 3,000 people (or larger), whereas a small church may only hold a few hundred or less. Each church is different. But the people are the same.
The people at church will welcome you into their fold. They will say hello. They will be nice to you. Many will attempt to be your friends. They will welcome you with open arms. They will ask questions. They will appear as friendly as anyone you've ever met. They want you to continue to go to "their church" and often times you will be told that. You will hear comparisons how "their church" is better than the others. How "their church" doesn't talk about other churches in a negative light. How "their church" is the place to bring your family, your children and your friends.
Life in church can be an amazing experience. It can light up your days. It can put a smile on your face. But, it can also fill you with frustration, anger, disgust, and disappointment. And many times it can turn you against the people that follow God. It's just a way of life. It's what happens in a church.
Life in a church can involve you meeting a lot of people you will for a period of time call friends. It can involve you joining youth groups (depending on your age), ministry teams (depending on your interest), leadership teams (depending on your skill and knowledge in leading people) and can involve you becoming a part of a team. You will for a time being feel like you've made a new family. And to quote an artist favorite of mine, "it's a miracle to feel like you belong," so said Stephen Kellogg.
But what happens if you grow tired of the people you've met not carrying through on discussed plans? What happens when you get frustrated that many don't call you back when they promise? What happens when you don't get text messages from people you called friends when you've missed one or two services? They disappear. It happens. It's part of church. And God's followers.
God is great. His people? Not so much.
When you attend church, you find yourself as part of a family. When you stop attending church? You find yourself the black sheep of the family. The odd man/woman out who nobody wants to talk to. It's almost as if they've forgotten your phone number, don't remember who you are, can't recall where you live (even if in some cases it's less than a mile away from former church friends) and you never hear from a soul.
If you are a member of a church, you feel like you fit in. You feel like you belong. But the minute you stop going? You are forgotten. The phone doesn't ring. The text messages stop. The social invites that sometimes came and sometimes didn't completely cease. You may receive a random text message once every few weeks or months. It makes "them" feel good. They can go back to their friends and say, "Yes, I talked to him. He's doing fine." It makes them look good. It makes others think they care.
In reality? They don't. It's all a show. And it's all fake. They care about one thing. Impressing others. That's all.
Life in church can be an amazing experience. It can be an incredible adventure. You can meet new people. You can make new friends. But the minute you stop going? You stop mattering.
I love God. I just am disgusted and downright disappointed in most of His people.
I went through my Facebook, Twitter, Social media and my phone and deleted almost everyone I ever called a friend out of my life. I can't be surrounded by people who truly don't care about anything else except themselves. It's a sad ending to what once was a good life experience. Attending churches for the better half of my life. Meeting new people. And then when it all ends?
You stop mattering. It's almost like once you stop stepping into a church, in the eyes of God's people- you're as good as dead.
You don't exist any longer. Your phone won't ring. They won't text you. Your social plans no longer occur. It's a sad ending to what was once a happy beginning.
Life in a church - And what happens after you stop going.