My Church Journey

The whole issue of being part of a local church has been an on-again, off-again issue for me throughout my entire adult life.
Growing up overseas, church involved walking a mile to the local Bengali church where the entire service was in another language that unfortunately I was not fluent in. I was able to participate in the singing, but had to sit through the sermon not understanding what was being said. The missionaries on the compound we lived on organized a Sunday School for the missionary kids to be part of, so that was in English but I don’t remember much about those Sunday School classes. On Sunday evenings, the missionaries would gather at the guest house to have an English service. That was “church” for me growing up. When we were in the States for furlough, we traveled around to all of our supporting churches where I heard my Dad preach the same sermon and hear the same presentation week after week. So my idea of church growing up was not the ideal.
In Kenya, we started a church that was held in English and Swahili. It was hard to follow along since it was broken up, back and forth between the 2 languages. On Sunday evenings, several of the local missionaries would gather together to have a service and that was “church” for me.
I was always required to go to church. Unless I was sick, I had to be part of church. Then I went to a Bible college with a lot of rules, including church attendance. By that point, I was tired of being “forced” to do something that I wanted to make my own choice in. During summers and after graduation, it was a relief to make the choice of whether or not to go to church.
In April/May of 1997, I moved out to Michigan to be closer to Jono, whom I was dating at the time. We started looking for a local church together. It was interesting to see how we each tended to look for different things in a church and trying to find a church that we both liked was not as easy as we thought it would be. We found a church that we both enjoyed only to watch it go through a big split right after we started going there. We ended up connecting more with the people who left and so went with them as they began plans to start a new church. In the process, they visited several local churches and Jono found he wanted to continue at one of the churches we visited.
We got married while attending that church but didn’t stay long after that. Over the course of the next several years we found ourselves church “shopping” and found it difficult to find a church that we both wanted to be part of. We also learned and grew through all this about what is really important in a church and what issues need to be overlooked since no church will be perfect. I often found myself tired of church and the same issues coming up again and again at different churches. I would go through periods of not going to church as a result.
In 2005, we found our current church and have been there ever since. That’s not to say that I still don’t struggle with the whole issue of church. Being an introvert has played a part in this struggle. It’s hard to be part of something that depletes your energy. Yet I also know the importance of being part of the Christian community. The Christian life is not a “lone ranger” life. It must be lived in connection with others. This can be an ongoing battle for me – the importance of being part of a community and the struggle of needing time alone to recharge. I haven’t found the answer yet but continue on in my Christian journey. What does church mean for you? Is it a vital part of your life or something you find yourself struggling with? I know that church is hard for many people, often because of past hurts. Christians hurt each other. Often church is a place of cliques. Or felt to be a bunch of rules that once must conform to in order to belong. Yet I see throughout the Bible, the emphasis on being part of a community, growing with God together, challenging each other to remain strong in the faith. As long as we live in a sinful world, this will be an ongoing challenge that Christians must work through.

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2 thoughts on “My Church Journey

  1. Church is a vital part of my life. I, like yourself, was an introvert in my younger days. One of the main reasons I am not that way today is the help a great pastor gave me. He guided me into focusing on what God wanted me to do and to quit worrying about the fear, etc. I felt in front of people. Under his guidance, I ended up preaching a few times at our church and another church. With God's help it even spread into my work and gave me the confidence to lead and teach groups in the workplace. It is definitely a freeing experience. Another thing to keep in mind is that the other people in the church “fall short of the glory of God” like we do. Are their cliques in church? Unfortunately yes. But their are also other believers experiencing the same feelings as you (and I). The secret is to trust God and let him guide you to the others who are looking for help. God bless.

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  2. The definition of being an introvert really has nothing to do with shyness or fear of getting in front of people. I am not shy at all and can get up in front of people with no problem. Introversion is about where energy is gained or drained. Introverts are drained of energy by being around people. So it is about the energy-drain that church has on me, not being in front of people. I think a lot of people misunderstand introverts and think they are all shy. This is a misconception. Thanks for sharing!

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