should i break up with the church?

Posted by Teen Bean

sense i moved to seattle i felt strongly about connect up with "normal american" church if you will. But i also wanted nothing normal about it. I had spent the summer reading through Ephesian and had completely, 100%, fallen in love with the bride of Christ. I wanted to be near her... if only so maybe a little glitter of that bridal glow could fall on my head!

I started attending a relatively new church plant here and have been inspired by their display of Christ love. They obviously adore Jesus and have quite an adherence to living that out through forming small communities. Sure they would say the ever scary "make sure you are inviting your friends to sunday service" phrase, but really could i expect perfection?

You know finding a new church is like some messed up casual feminist dating scene. girl spot boy. girl thinks "i'd hit that'. girl flirts. boy is to lazy to react. girl approaches boy. boy still dosn't get it. girl tricks boy to a date. boy doesn't change. girl gets annoyed. boy doesn't get it. girl thinks "why the hell did i want this". girl tries to talk to boy. boy doesn't listen. girl finally gets pissed and leaves.

and we wonder why people have an issue with church (or dating for that matter!)

for the last 5 months i've been putting what i can into building a relationship with this church. I try and understand their vision, i try and support their systems, i try and ask the hard question, i tried to submit, i try and blend my hearts desires for missional community with their structures system.

once i asked our small group if we could meet at a coffee shop instead of just the back room at our church. the group was nice enough to accomodate and decided to cancel bible discussion and have a hang out night "per tina's suggestion" at the local coffee shop. not really the effect i was hoping to make. I rocked up with my bible and ordered my brew and sat down and wanted to chat about life and what issues there are and how the bible was really relevant to them. we started talking on how we are suppose to accept homosexuality. A real issue... in a real setting... in the real world. Yes i was aware that homosexuals might be around me, yes i was careful to speak in love, yes i wanted those around to know that i am concerned that homosexuals are being shunned by Christians, Yes i want homosexuals to know i love them, Yes i want homosexuals to know that I'm not going to judge them for their life style... so i said those things out loud.... my group leader wasn't happy.

time carries on...

i'm hungary for more of God. The small group i am in spends a half and hour to 45 min talking about how crazy homeless people are on the bus or how great the snacks are that night. then we crack open the bible for a half hour and lightly skim over 6-8 verses. The leader actually does a really good job at asking some hard questions, but he is responded to in such deafening silence, my insides cringe at the reality that i am surrounded by 8 to 10 adult christians that have nothing to say on a text that they claim is the "Living Voice of God"! really!!?? God is speaking and your going to sit there and fucking text on your phone?!!

then the night ends with optional prayer.... OPTIONAL!!!!!!!!???!!!!!

when do we pray all night? when do we get so consumed in talking to God that time just doesn't matter? when do we worship him... intimately... till tears run down our face, till our knees lock up, till our voice grows horse from calling out "HOLY SPIRIT COME SAVE US... PLEASE!"


the grass is green in this church. the kingdom they have built is golden. the beauty of what this church has, should have one effect and ONE EFFECT ONLY.... to run!!! with everything we have and offer the riches that God is in places that are completely void.... BUT WHY IS THAT NOT WHATS HAPPENING?

why is the message that they keep sending "now make sure you invite your friends to service" instead of "ok so get equipped so you can take what we have shown you here out to some place darker?" you don't have to go far to hit some really spiritually dark and poor places where i live.

Regardless i so saw the beauty of what this church is doing. The simply way they have loved me is phenomenal and they have blessed me multiple times. I wanted to honor that. I met up this weekend with my small group leaders because more than ever i am passionate about starting a more intentional prayer house. I have heard this church speak out time and time again how we are to live the values they are preaching from the front in our ever day lives, how they on purpose keep meetings and programs minimal so that we have to time and space to live out these values within the context of our lives. I wanted them to know how they have inspired me... how i wanted to run more intentionally for Christ. how i felt God was calling me to help gather people together who would pray, most fervently for this town, for our people, for his bride!

I asked them for wisdom. I asked them what they thought was the best way to move forward. their question to me....

"how often are you coming to church on sunday?"

what??? they know i can't come to church on sunday. they offer services only on sunday morning and my job requires me to work overnights. it impossible with my evening schedule of classes and night shift at work to be awake during the morning...

so i asked them... "what do you do with oddlings like me that can't make sunday church"

"well", they responded "the commitment to our church requires you to serve, to tithe, to be plugged into a small group, and to attend sunday morning services..." and then they just looked at me... expecting me to figure out a way to keep investing into this relationship.... (lazy ass boy!)

it was in this moment that i realized to them that no matter how committed i am ever day of the week to God, if i don't show face at their sunday morning service (which by the way they keep very seeker friendly... so no deep bible talking cuz God forbid you scare someone away by speaking out the truth of what is written in the bible.) then i am really not as serious about God as i am blabbering on about!

at which i begin to question why the hell i ever wanted to be in this relationship and then i start to question why i went about starting the relationship in the first place... and then i think "its about time we broke up!"

but as any good girl would consult her crew before breaking up with a boy... i to shall take a moment to ask my crew... what do you think?? should i break up??

This entry was posted on Monday, January 18, 2010 at Monday, January 18, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


first, i agree with your philosophy of church as Christ defines it: roughly incl the acknowlement that traditional sunday morning church does not define or identify a true christian. and, i sympathize with your coffeeshop story. SAD DAY! and unfortunately, quite universal among "evangelicals."

all the more reason why the church needs you tina.

even if you do "break up" with the church (as even i did during cedarville and my first few months in korea), it doesn't mean you're breaking up with church in its entirety. not ALL churches are like the one you are experiencing, although they sadly do seem to be the most accessible.

however, you are the best activist ever and although it might indeed be time for a leave of absence from that particular church or church in general for you, i feel in my heart that you are the one person i know who can be a saving light and grace to some church somewhere. i don't the answer for christians, esp christians with such passion/ability/activism tendencies as you, tina, to "break up with the church."

remember, marriage is a covenant.

January 18, 2010 at 3:37 PM

By the way, I read this book this past summer after hearing the author speak in New York City. ALthough not the best piece of writing I've ever analyzed, it definitely posited interesting points and basically agreed with you. I had some interesting mini convos with Pastor Steve about the same topic over the summer as he preached a few relevant sermons. I have a copy of this book that I can get to you next summer unless you want to check it out beforehand. (mine is currently buried in storage hah)

January 18, 2010 at 3:41 PM

By the sounds of it and speaking as an ex pastor of a church. I would have finished with you before you finished with us. What a sucky attitude, arrogant springs to mind and judgemental.

January 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM

touche brian.... touche!

January 19, 2010 at 12:54 AM

sorry I was a little to strong with my last comment, it doesn't read well. You are a great person keep wrestling with the questions. Just think that the bride of Christ has many various shapes and forms, we've got to be so careful. If you mess with the bride you have to deal with the husband! Anyway sorry for being rude on your blog.

January 19, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Ahhh teen,
The church, the bride of Christ Himself, The source of life, actual life. But also the source of so much frustration over the centuries. I love your heart, and how you are in this position of struggle. I guess the important questions are those in which we ask How can we build the church, how can we, as Gods people serve her and move her in the direction that God is leading.
I’m always reminded of Jesus’ call to Pete, “... on this rock, I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH...” the release that it is the big man building his church and that we can help, and play a part.
I think there’s always a place to bring it all back to the heart of what Jesus’ purpose was, is and will be, to call all people, all tribes and tongues back to himself, and how do we fit into this picture, how do we best serve this idea.
I think we need to be slow to pass any kind of judgement on what our idea is, and look at the original heart of Jesus. Church takes many forms, many shapes and those shape’s are to engage people to him in whatever context that might be. I strongly believe God is leading you to the pioneering edge of this call, building something in you that will in turn build his kingdom hear, in Seattle, in America, in India, in the UK of even in the far east. This journey is causing you to seek out the answers to those questions that a lot of people are facing, and each challenge brings about something in the refining process of how you, eventually can play the part that has already been laid out for you.
I don’t know the answer on the current church attending issue, and I don’t know it’s an easy one to call. But I think that in any relationship there are frustrations but if we truly love the other person (in this case the church) we should be about seeking the best for that person in that relationship. If it means being there that’s kool. If it means a fresh expression of that love in another context that, i think is ok too.
Keep digging in, don’t lose focus of the eventual goal, keep fighting the good fight, keep asking the questions. And above all, keep listening, listen hard.

January 19, 2010 at 11:55 PM
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January 19, 2010 at 11:55 PM

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