I went to church today for the first time in months

My wife is off traveling OS with the eldest… so I’ve got the 4 and 7 yr old, so I decided to take them to church today…. for something to do…. And I decided I’d journal through the service… so here are my thoughts, hot off the press.

First up I notice the whole stage is done up… looks like they’ve spent maybe 10-15K on curtains, sound proofing and paint. Something I wanted to do for years but couldn’t scrape the money together. They’ve been saving lots on wages since over the last 12 months five staff have left. The worship doesn’t seem better or any more vibrant, despite people telling me that there’s a “move of God” because of the new pastor. It’s basically the same – although there was less people. But then I guess why would it be the same? Unless things fundamentally change the outward expression can’t.

Worship has started. The new guy is still busy shaking hands. He comes over and shakes mine, which I’m reluctant to do… then he said sorry for starting on the wrong foot. I said, it doesn’t matter (I mean “whatever”).

The fact that he froze me out and refused to meet me gave me heaps of grief and I’m slowly coming to terms with that. But then again looking on the positive side, maybe it just helped me face reality that I am useless and really don’t have anything to offer.

I am not needed and have nothing to contribute that someone else isn’t already contributing and anything I could do that isn’t being done is simply not important.

We’re up to the third song now. I’m singing and worshiping God because I love him, but at the same time I’m thinking it’s great to not have to make this service happen. There are times if its dead I would feel stress and feel like I’d have to do something to make something happen. There was always the worry that people will leave saying its dead and when word gets out that its dead it’s like poison.

I don’t know this last song… so I’m just kinda hanging with God. I don’t feel like I need to be singing. I’m not sure what people think I’m doing on my PDA… they probably think I’m texting someone! Who cares!

It’s just dawned on me…. I just figured out what part of the body of Christ i am – the appendix. No-one knows what it’s good for… and if it causes a problem or breaks, you don’t fix it… you surgically remove it and toss it on the scrapheap.

The next thing that dawns on me as the music is playing is the amazing thing is, God even loves stuff that isn’t useful… Like thunder, sunsets, the stars and planets, art, and poetry. I guess if we only view things through the lens of modernity, effectiveness, and usefulness then we are going to misunderstand a lot about God and His kingdom.

I always knew God didn’t need me… I’ve even preached it. But why did he have to use this church – my church, to teach me such a painful lesson?

I really enjoyed worship although for some reason, the kids don’t go to kids church until afterward, so my two were restless and a bit hyperactive. Not sure how parents are really supposed to engage with God if their kids are running around… but I guess pastors who have teenage kids don’t think about that….

It is tough experiencing a modern church through post-modern eyes… For example, the pastor just jumped up and said something to the effect of “we are people of the book, etc… Believe the truth… The inspired Word of God… your emotions won’t set you free, the truth will….blah blah blah.” But once we realise that the truth is in fact a person, not cold hard facts, but Jesus, and the word is Jesus and that it becomes law when the two are separated, it’s a bit hard to swallow.

I think i will one day find a way to serve God outside of the conventional church, but inside his kingdom.

I reckon that because we value mastery over mystery we elevate principles and in doing so we become legalistic and religious and don’t need the holy spirit. The enemy gets us with a double whammy.
My former senior pastor and coach has flown in, and is preaching now, which is one of the reasons I decided to go to church today. He says the purpose of covenant is to bring us into union with God and into union with each other. He’s talking about something I believe deeply. That church is first and foremost relationship vertically, then relationship horizontally. I just wish there wasn’t so much baggage hanging off all that and it was much simpler. His son (a close friend of mine) who burned out a few years ago didn’t come… another victim in ministry.

It wasn’t bad but i was done by 90 minutes though with another half hour to go. What I listened to most was when my former coach talked about himself and when he gave an example of how he would pray the lord’s prayer, in fact I had goosebumps. The information side of things though (the hebrew definitions) I could do without.

Final thoughts… I guess i just love the church as it is, warts and all and to not be part of something one loves is really sad. I think that’s why its been so hard and painful. Yes, I know things need to change radically in the church, but that doesn’t stop me from loving what it is today.

Maybe i needed the pain to become disillusioned enough to look for something new and to truly see how crippled the church of today is.

On the upside, one good thing is that I don’t feel sick… just sad and useless… which is much better than sick!

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3 Responses

  1. I can totally relate to feeling useless…even unwanted when we have left. Maybe part of the problem is that so much of our identity, an therefore our sense of self worth, is tied in with what we do. Well, it is for me anyway.

    I still love the churc, i.e. the people, but totally hate the institution. I am learning to find God, and life in Him outside the walls of organized Christianity…..and thats just part of my journey for now. When I firts left full time ministry I still loved the church and longed ofr it to be reformed….now, I dont see much hope for change and for me, the future is outside the church……I believe you will find a way to serve God in his kingdom, outside the conventional church. Maybe for now, you just need to de-tox from church a bit more.

    • Hey RS thanks for your comment. I’d say yep definitely our identity is tied to our work, and this isn’t just pastors of course. Most men are like that. However, it’s more personal for us, because it’s a calling, not just a career, a ministry not just a job… it’s an expression of who we are as leaders. That’s why it’s so confusing and disorienting when we are no longer functioning as who and what we are.

      Sadly, I’d agree with you, I don’t believe the existing church can be reformed. Reform is too painful and costly and the sacrifice is people like us. No, I think something new has to be birthed. It’s always been the way with the church ever since the dark ages and always will be.

      • I have come to learn and enjoy the fact that a Person’s worth/identity is not based on what they do or how they behave.

        Ones worth is simply based on the fact that they exist as human beings created in God’s image. We don’t have to do or behave to be perfect.

        When God Created Adam, He said this is Perfect. Adam did not do anything for God to say he is perfect.

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