Sunday, August 1, 2010

What I think about church at the moment

I worked at a large church in the Bay Area for over a year, and 90% of it was wonderful. I went to almost every event, and always had friends to meet. I was involved in 3 different ministries as a leader; Jr. High, Sunday morning coffee serving volunteers, and even a short-lived young adult study group. I babysat for MOPS on Friday mornings, I worked with the women's book club, I took Bible classes, I helped with events.

Now and then, I would hear complaints from other singles who found it difficult to connect. It sounded a lot like whining to me. "After all," I would think, "church isn't there to fulfill you personally. It's there for you to become a part of the family. Get involved, and then maybe you'll experience connection."

I have been on some sort of ministry inner circle since I was 13 years old, and my youth pastor changed my life by inviting me on a leadership trip. I thanked him at the end of the trip for letting me come "even though I'm not a leader." He smiled and said "You may not realize it, Jana, but I've got plans for you."

And he did. He made me try teaching, organizing, greeting people, thinking out of my comfort zone, mission trips, missional thinking, Bible study, Bible memorization, quiet times, fasting, outreach, witnessing, fundraising, and more. All of those elements became core to my life for the next leaps into working at Worldview Academy, going to a christian University, teaching at a Christian school after university, and working at a church after that. He gave me a sense of purpose in ministry leadership.

I think I became very reliant on being in the "inner circle." It was the best place to be, and I felt at home there. My struggle now is how to be good at being a regular attender at my large home church where my family has been for almost 20 years. I am heavily involved in 2 other ministries, and my schedule is already full; in fact, I've made some deliberate choices this year to cut back on the amount of time I have dedicated so I can spend more time with writing and art projects.

How do you get up the effort to go to church? To walk in the doors alone, knowing you may not even see someone you know? To know that no one would miss you if you don't show up? After a work week fraught with stress, how do you leave a welcomingly silent Sunday morning at home with coffee and comforting hum of the refrigerator and a good book to sit an an air-conditioned lecture room and mouth the words to songs you don't really know anymore?

It's time to leave for the late service, so I'm off. I'll be going to church for the first time in a month. I'll let you know how it goes.

2 comments:

Single and Sane said...

My experience as a youth was the opposite of yours. I quit going to church and no one noticed - or if they did, they didn't do anything about it. In my mid-20s, I started to feel drawn back to church and I swore "any church but that church." But then after a few years of searching, God led me right back to THAT church and I've been back for nearly 20 years.

For me, involvement made the initial difference. I went to lunch with my Sunday school class, and I found places to serve. Now I'm not as active with my class, but I still serve. But it's the act of corporate worship that I miss when I'm sick or out-of-town, and it's what gets me out of bed on Sunday morning when I think how nice it would be to have a lazy day. Whether it's the old hymns or new songs, that time we take out of our weeks full of overscheduled days to praise God with other followers of Christ is what feeds my soul and gets me through the next overscheduled week.

jana.kaye said...

Thanks, Margaret! I did go this morning, and corporate worship was the part that made me remember what I do miss. I think it's something related to the phrase "The peace that passes understanding" that works through a church service, and the act of choosing to be there. I'm going to try it more often.