So I've been away from the American church for a while and during that period my relationship with her has been a little dysfunctional.
We were sent by her and supported by her and what I’m beginning to realize is that distance has caused some separation. The American church has grown and evolved as have I, just on different tracks and at different speeds.
So I’ve been back now for over a year and I have to be honest, the toughest part of the transition was not fitting into a new, secular job. It was not a new school or a new diet or a new home or a new car or a new culture. It was and continues to be seeing how I fit into the American church.
Most Sundays are agonizing. And it doesn’t have to do with the local ‘church’ that we’re ‘attending’. We’ve felt this way at all of the ‘churches’ we’ve ‘attended’ since we’ve been back. And it isn’t that we’re bitter or jaded – we are really involved and love the church and pray for her a lot. It also isn’t because we have all the answers, because we don’t. All I can fall back on is a vague, and sometimes not so vague, sense that something simply isn’t right, that something simply doesn’t fit.
So, for a year I’ve wondered how to express what I’m feeling and experiencing and thinking. I honestly didn’t expect this. In all of my dreams of what I wanted to do and pursue in this idea of the sunken church, disillusionment with the American church didn’t really play into it. I hadn’t really experienced it before or if I had, it was masked in that dysfunctional, long-distance relationship.
I want to belong; I really do. But I don’t want to be a member. I want people in my life to be able to tell that I belong by my words and my actions. I don’t want a ceremony or a trite prayer. I want to be swept up in something bigger than myself. I want to come alongside brothers and sisters, beside friends who share a similar view of the Kingdom and the need around us. I want to belong to a community of people that are brave enough to throw out old forms and dream of new ones.
In spite of all of this angst, I couldn’t tell you when I have felt more full, more alive, more myself…more in tune with God's will for my life...