Relearning to Unlearn Church
I have been out of church for a little over a year. I left because nothing seemed authentic anymore. The people, the atmosphere, the purpose, the mission, and intent were all tainted. Everything was so tainted in my eyes that my perception of God was as well. I went from being a young woman who was so enamored by God and all that He is to being completely turned off and disgusted. Of course there those of you who are are in church who have heard the dismissing phrases such as, “Your faith is in God not people” or “If you were focused on God, people shouldn’t turn you away”. You know, BS like that. If indeed how badly you were treated in church should not matter then what is the purpose of church? If our focus should not be on people but instead just God, then why do we meet and fellowship? Today, many people are leaving the church, because of hurt and abuse. Hurt and abuse that is left unaddressed. Instead of healing and accountability, we hear “well if you didn’t…blah blah blah”.
I am not writing this to bash Christians and church, or vent about how badly I have been hurt by church folk. I’m writing about none of that, because I am past it all. However, I am sharing my thoughts on the abuse and neglect imposed on people by the church. This morning, I laid on the couch trying to formulate some form of communication with God. I repeated to myself, “How do I talk to God?”, as if I have never ever done so before. It was so foreign to me. I was left amazed at how I had absolutely no clue on how to talk to God. The impact of realizing the 9 years of emotional abuse and neglect I experienced in church had pushed me so far away from God. I did not know that I was being emotionally and spiritually abused until the last 2 years of my attending a specific church. Upon realizing that the atmosphere was no longer healthy or fruitful, I became very grieved and stuck. I thought to myself, “I don’t belong here anymore, but where do I go?”. I became very depressed due to the experiences I had while attending. A few times I shared my concerns, but it was all ignored and unaddressed.
I left that ministry with such resentment towards the people and God. God did not deserve any of the resentment I had towards Him. For it was God that made it so that I was able to leave. The emotional toll had taken its full course on me that I found myself abruptly taken out of the ministry. To the not so keen eye and mind, my exit was surely unnecessary and too dramatic. But to my understanding, it was God intervening. I should have never experienced what I did in church. Even if I had to experience all that, It still should have never been left unaddressed. Everything that Christ has intended for His church is everything that it is not today. This is so prevalent in the western church, both black and white.
The amount of pettiness that reigns in black churches, I can not stomach to fathom. The quarrels for positions are disgusting; it’s all malice and more malice. On the other hand, I’ve experienced subtle racism from white Christians: All stemmed from ignorance and church segregation. I sit back and reflect it all and think to myself, “we are to represent God? Jesus Christ?”. Surely not! The western church today, does not represent Christ at all. A person cannot be represented where he or she is not acknowledged. In a church, or ministry where Christ is acknowledged, there is healing and transformation. A person entering a Christ-centered ministry, will enter bruised and sin filled, but come out changed. I believe this is so because Christ drew people to himself, not away. That same characteristic found in Christ is found in a healthy church ministry. A healthy church ministry will never tolerate the sin, but will always love the people for the people’s sake. So the false phrases that suggest church neglect are not biblical, nor are of the characteristics of Christ. God never intended for the church to be individualistic. For if He did, the church would never have been referred to as the body of Christ. In the human body, the ailment of an organ affects the whole body. The brain would never send a message to that organ saying, “Well if you didn’t…blah blah blah”, and then ignore it. That will never happen, because the whole body is at risk.
God made the body so connected within itself that each organ with it’s specific purpose will fail if the other is compromised. This analogy is very important, especially if we consider brain death. A person’s heart and organs maybe working due to a machine, but if there is no brain activity it is all in vain. So in a church ministry if a member is hurting and neglected, the whole body can be at risk; the issues should be addressed not ignored. Perhaps if my concerns were addressed, things would have happened differently. But I can’t say that for sure. I have learned to see what the church is supposed to be like from experiencing what it should not be. I am finding myself desiring to attend church again; a church that exhibits the characteristics of Christ and the intentions of God. I will be praying for such for my sake.