I’m a Christian. I’ve said it before. I believe in the Lord and I will preach the good Word until I am blue in the face. But something happened at the church today that I wasn’t particularly thrilled with.
We were about to take Communion, as we do once a month, and just before passing the plates, the Pastor made sure that everyone knew that if we had not been baptized through immersion, then we were not welcome to take Communion. Now, mind you that my mother (who had never been with me to church before) came with me that day. She had never been Baptized through immersion, but when she was in her infancy, she had gotten the “sprinkle” as we’d come to call it. I, on the other hand, had been a member of this church for nearly ten years, but had not been Baptized at all.
Me being the person that I am, took Communion anyway. My mother, however, did not. I was kind of embarrassed by the whole thing. Not just for myself, but for the whole congregation. I know if were a person visiting that church for the first time, like several people were, it would be a definite turn-off if a Pastor specifically pointed me out and told me to not take part in, what I personally think, is our most intimate connection with the Lord (other than prayer, obviously).
Another point here, is that I have been a member of this church for nearly eleven years. And by member, I don’t mean like the CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only). I commute a little over an hour every Sunday in order to go to a forty-five minute Sunday School lesson every week. I take part in annual volunteer events. I’ve even been to Bible Camp a couple of times when I was younger. I’m about as involved as it gets. The one thing I do not do, though, is attend the actual service.
Why, you ask, do I not attend the service? Of course I’ll tell you.
Once upon a time, I saw a very political side of my church that I had never seen before. Members of the church were trying to get our previous Pastor out because he wanted to shift the focus from what he considered to be a “dying congregation”, to the children who would one day grow up to lead, run, do missions, and volunteer for the church. Well, the old folks didn’t like that. So, after several years of back and forth, this Pastor finally left. And with very short notice.
Having not selected a replacement for the Pastor, an interim was appointed. The interim was a man who I greatly revered. He’d been my Sunday School teacher for many years before any of this had ever taken place. He also just so happened to be the former Pastor’s son-in-law. This was a young man with spunk and charisma. He was drawing in a younger crowd. And although it was probably what would’ve been better for the church in the long-run, the elders of the congregation were outraged. They thought that the appointment of the son-in-law was the former Pastor’s way of keeping his own hand in at the church. Yet another fit was thrown when the Pastor’s other son-in-law was appointed the interim Youth Minister after the abrupt exit of the previous.
Now, it’s no coincidence that both of the Pastor’s sons-in-law were brought on the team. Obviously. It also wasn’t a bad thing. Both of them were God-fearing men who wanted nothing but the best for the church and its congregation. They made things simple and relate-able for teenagers like myself and I appreciated them both for it. It was due to all of this (for lack of a better term) drama that my father and I decided to not attended the worship service anymore, though.
Behind the scenes there was so much confusion and frustration. The congregation and leadership had lost sight of what was the most important part of the church-going experience and the weekly sermons suffered because of it. Yes, I understand that it’s stressful. It takes a lot of time and effort to make the machine go, but the most important part of church is coming together to worship the Lord. He alone gave us the opportunity to come to this place and sing his name loud and proud without running the risk of being arrested or even murdered like in other parts of the world and I think many people lose sight of this.
I began attending church on a regular basis again once things had equaled out a bit. I came to Sunday School on a weekly basis, even when my dad was out of town, because I was finally able to drive myself places. Although I was convinced the new Sunday School teachers were no more than three years older than myself (even if they were outstanding teachers, I couldn’t help but think of them as peers) and the new music director was no better than mediocre, I decided to give it one more try and after several months, I fell back in love with the church that I’d been dedicated to for nearly a solid decade.
I think today may have changed that. I had never been told to not take Communion. I have been a member of the church. I have publicly and privately accepted the Lord into my heart. If the only thing I’m missing out on is being dunked face-first into a communal bath tub then I don’t think I’m missing out on much.
Just food for thought. I’d like to apologize, because I’m sure I’ve offended somebody, but I swore to myself that I was going to be completely honest when I started publishing on this blog, so this simply fell under that category. If you’ve read through this point, then I appreciate your hanging in there through my less-than-fantastic rhetoric and grammar.
If your opinion differs I’d still love to hear it. Leave me a note in the comment section below to let me know if my feelings and actions are justified or if I need to just calm the heck down.