It is really fascinating to see different people’s reactions to when they hear why I don’t go to my old church any more. Every now and then members of that church come into the library where I work. Sometimes they ask why they don’t see me anymore. Sometimes they don’t ask and I tell them anyway.
I’ve pared down the story to what is essentially an elevator speech. It is short and to the point. I explain how the church experience that we are being served doesn’t match up with the Church that Jesus came to create. That it isn’t about us giving all of our tithe money to support a building but the Body of Christ. And that Body isn’t just the church members but everybody. I point out that Jesus didn’t tell us to have ministers or a division of lay and ordained.
It is interesting to note the reactions. Some people start to turn away from me, to actually try to leave. I think they feel threatened by my ideas. An alarm clock is certainly threatening to people who are asleep.
I would have had the same reaction to anyone saying what I’m saying about five years ago. How dare you attack my church?
But now I think about what church is, really. Who are we serving? Who are we following?
One person I talked to said that the church is being run like a business. He said that the former priest did the same thing. And yet he still goes. He said his wife refuses to go to that particular church because of the priest who is there. I’ve met others with the same sentiment.
But it isn’t the minister. It is the whole idea. We are doing it wrong.
The minister is being duped too. She’s bought into the system. She has the most to lose, so her ego is tied to it.
And sometimes I find a sympathetic ear. Sometimes I find another rebel. Sometimes I find someone who feels the same way and is also searching, also feels that something is wrong. Sometimes they tell me that they are going to other churches. They are shopping around.
They haven’t yet realized like I have that the problem is bigger than that minister or that parish.
We have to strip the whole thing down and start all over again. We can’t fix it from the inside. I tried that. I was viewed as crazy. I still am by many of those who still go to that church. Declaring someone as crazy is the fastest way to discredit someone, after all. It is the fastest way to silence someone.
I’ve not gone silent. I’ve just gone away. And in leaving I’ve found a large community of people who are just the same as me. They love Jesus, but they weren’t finding him in the church. We can’t all be crazy. Perhaps there is something more going on. Perhaps we are the only sane ones. Perhaps it is just like with “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – perhaps we are the only ones who are seeing things the way they really are.