The church in which I was baptized has grown by leaps and bounds since I started going there at the age of 13...during the thick of my on-fire-for-Jesus'ness. I remember the comfort I felt being in that beautiful building, surrounded by people who started out strangers but eventually became like a second family to me. I loved all the hugs, the conversations, and the feeling of community. Now, the church still has the same pastor (love him), and, like I said, it's grown to be at least 500 people per Sunday. Not a lot if you're from a larger city, but this is a little "country" church out in the middle of nothing. They're building a new sanctuary that basically looks like a gym on the outside...corrugated metal, etc. I didn't recognize 90% of the people, no hugs, no spark.
The Easter presentation is always a "character sermon." Roger dresses up as some character from the Bible and delivers his message in the first-person. It's usually interesting but today it left me cold. There was an Easter Cantata. Also left me cold. I left upset that I felt completely unmoved by any of the goings-on. I didn't feel that sense of wonder and awe and community that usually comes from my church...even if I haven't been in ages!
At one point during the character sermon--the character's name has just left me--lists off all these bad parts of his POV (he was the puppet master behind the crucifixion..Clack, help!) and says, "Yes, I'm what, today, you would call your liberals." OH MY HEAVENS!! Let's step outside!!!!
I consider myself a pretty progressive thinker, and I'm also a Christian. I know down deep that I'm right with God and that I'm not a bad person if I don't agree to the letter, so it irked me to feel attacked in my own place of worship. That started the questions rolling in my head:
- Can someone as un-conservative as I am in many ways find rest and complete acceptance in a Baptist church?
- Is this church the right place for me?
- Is church in general the right place for me?
- Is this organized religion too static?
These are really important questions that have been creeping up for a while. I'm not scared of the questions or finding the answers, but it really hits hard that I'm not experiencing that same sensation of awe that I did when I was younger. I feel the awe at other times....traveling, seeing people and places, being with my family, scholarly work, teaching. I've always felt like God had a plan for my life, and I know He's with me every day, but I don't know that my spiritual needs are best served in that traditionally accepted environment. I feel more blessed reading my Bible alone and thinking and contemplating and pondering than in a room full of other Christians.
So, it looks like Sojourness and I have more in common all the time. I'm a capital QUESTIONING in Questioning Believer. I'm gonna start looking at some new churches, and if that doesn't help some new denominations....or maybe a non-denomination.