Sundays always leave me pondering about the church at large and our place in the church in particular. Interestingly, I consider myself a church-leaver, even though we attend a church.
Today I was inspired by Brother Maynard's post, Memory Lane and the Ongoing Life of a Church-Leaver, to also assess what has transpired for us in the last couple of years.
When we were faced with the inevitability of leaving our former church, I remember wailing to my husband, "I don't want to be unchurched!"
We started by taking 6 full months away from church. At that point, we weren't even ready to sit in someone's back row. The divorce from our former church felt to us like a large ripple in a fairly small pond.
Regarding church communities
The first church we visited after six months was a new church that was attempting to get started in town. The fliers looked promising, however we knew after one visit that we wouldn't be going back.
Because we live in a smaller town and more rural area, we were fairly familiar with the other churches in our area. We ruled out all of the other charismatic churches in our area for various reasons. The large community church remained as the most likely place for us to attend.
And this is where we still are.
Regarding connecting and community
It seems like it shouldn't be that hard to find some local friends to share this journey with, but it's not happening. My husband's most helpful advice today was that I was just going to have to find them. So I don't know, maybe an ad in the newspaper, or I could just target likely suspects on the street, or maybe a bunch of you could move here. Or I suppose I could trust God to bring us into relationship with the right people at the right time.
Regarding our family
We are doing great. We are really tight as a family unit, and we're all disgustingly happy, even the dog is happy. One of the issues involved in our leaving the former church was the "apostle" pressuring us to prioritize ministry ahead of our family. Personally, we felt that the next few years of our children's lives were too important for us to neglect.
The kids enjoy the church we are involved in now. They can relate to the teaching, and we believe it is a spiritually and socially healthier atmosphere for them.
We have always believed that the spiritual foundation and development of our children is our responsibility. I don't think that this transition has been difficult for them. While my husband and I attempt to be positive about where we are at this time, I sometimes wonder if our underlying unsettledness will affect them.
Summing it up
The last two years have given me a complete change in perspective concerning church. I no longer fear being "unchurched." I have learned that it is more important for me to understand being the church. Personally, I think it would be great for everyone to step away from religious organizations long enough to learn to express their spirituality without dependence on religious institutions.
I wish I could write a conclusive-sounding summary, but the end of this story is still being written.