Meet my friend Rachel (pseudonym). She courageously took the time to do a QA with me. Rachel is someone who loves Jesus in deep ways AND also struggles with church experiences she’s had in the past.
As a minister in the marketplace, I come across employees who have experienced deep pains in church settings and life. In some ways, we’re not prepared rightly to face the pain of church problems and issues. We are promised that if we attend church, all will be well. But that’s not the case. A healthier spiritual formation will involve suffering and pain IN the church. Why? Because we’re humans who are prone to greed, jealousy, and fear when left unchecked.
My hope in doing these QA sessions is to allow folks to share their story and bless us in their journey.
What are some of your favorite memories about being part of a church community?
“Getting involved in serving has given me so many great memories and the relationships I developed through serving – have continued.
Being a part of “Small Groups” has also been some of my most cherished memories. Not only did we meet weekly for a pot luck and bible study, we also did a lot of other things like going on the Horn Blower Cruises, Padre games, etc.
I felt such a sense of “Family” in my church community.”
Is having “practicing” faith something that is important to you? If so, why/why not?
“If I understand this question correctly then “Yes”, having a practicing faith reinforces the core of who I am. I believe in God, I believe that Jesus came to earth and paid the price for our sins, I believe in the words written in the bible and try to live by those words. I constantly have to re-center myself back to my core but because I now know “who” I am, I know where/what my center is. For years, I didn’t know “who” I was so, it was easy to blindly go through life.
I believed in God and tried to live life accordingly but didn’t realize I had the power of the Holy Spirit in me and that is how I could be powerfully guided through life. Instead of following my faith, I eventually learned to live my faith. Practicing my faith is very important to me, I tend to do it more quietly than others, I am very firm in my faith, I don’t feel I have to defend it nor do I push it on others (but will share it with others). I am very protective of my faith.”
What are some of your current struggles with belonging to a church community?
“I had to leave the church community for a number of reasons such as:
Mainly because there was so much going on in my personal life with people dying, suicide, personal struggles, etc., that I went into a depression.
I was serving so often that I rarely got time to nourish myself spiritually and no longer had anything left in me to give.
I started to get very resentful about how so many others never served yet had such high expectations from those of us that did.
I think I was so burnt out, so many things started to bother me, not about my relationship with the Lord but people in general.
We have gone to different churches since then but just didn’t “feel” it there like I did the moment I did when I walked into my past church home from day one.
The church we went to had such a variety of people from different economic backgrounds, ethnicity, tattoos, piercings, etc. I LOVED the diversity of this church!!!
I don’t know how to word it other than, the other churches we have tried since, just seemed so “white” and “middle class”.
I came from a very poor background and even though I am white and now probably considered middle-class, I feel more comfortable around people who grew up with very little.
I don’t want to go to a church where my any of my co-workers or family goes.
When do you most seek direction from God?
More so when I need to make a “big” decision but strive to seek His direction in everything.
What do you most long for in your current stage of life?
Peace in my heart
What are some reasonable ways one can engage practicing their faith on a daily basis?
I like to have people around me that are more mature in their walk with the Lord so I feel like I’m constantly learning. I like to have friends that will hold me accountable. I like my faith walk to include friends in my journey. Although I have gotten really lax in my behavior, I would like to get back to a place where I walk the walk and let my actions speak for themselves. I want people to just know I’m a Christian by my behavior not me throwing words out there.
Some of the changes I would like to see in todays churches are:
*Different people leading worship (for a variety of reasons).
*I’m not sure if these “mega” churches are healthy for the relationships we should be developing.
*The leaders, especially the pastors, need to be more in touch with the congregation. They need to know our specific struggles, stories, needs, etc.
I don’t like how so many Christians idolize the pastor. Some won’t even come to church if they know the pastor is on vacation (one of the reasons having different people lead is a good idea).
*I would love a church that had smaller groups with different pastors leading (same sermon but delivered differently) rather than one big sanctuary. We all learn differently so there is no “one pastor fits all”. I loved a pastor that was so funky and down to earth. Some felt he was too funny and church wasn’t supposed to be funny. My husband like this one pastor that was extremely detailed, very intelligent, etc., that I couldn’t understand a lot of what he said. It went right over my head. Our main pastor was so anointed, walked the walk, etc., but actually getting “with” the congregation seemed to be less and less (although he was battling some serious health issues in his defense).