Honestly, I've dreading going to church lately. In fact this past Sunday, after a two week hiatus (it might have been three), I finally forced myself to go to church. I went to a church I used to attend a couple years ago, and found a seat up in the balcony. I'm not sure how other churches with balconies operate, but the only reasons I find to sit in the balcony is because your: a) running late and all the seats in the main sanctuary are taken, or b) you don't really want to "engage" with people. I fell into the second category this week. I didn't want to smile and shake people's hands with the knowledge that neither of us knew each others name two years ago and neither of us will remember the other's name tomorrow.
In part that was one of the reasons I ended up leaving that church. It was too big, and I couldn't come to terms that I wasn't part of the community of people that I would sit next to on Sunday morning. I loved the sermons, they were relevant, and usually challenged me personally. I enjoyed the group of people that I got to know through smaller ministries that they had, but I found myself sitting next to different people every week. Shaking hands, smiling, sitting down, listening, and leaving every week.
I feel awful feeling this way towards a church. A church that is so good at drawing people in and connecting them with other people in the community - a church that really manages to be inviting to outsiders and personally challenging for "the regulars." Yet for some reason, I never truly felt comfortable amidst the high tech lighting and sound. This week I found myself looking at a flat screen monitor just above my head wondering how many meals that could make. Then, looking at the spiffy new card stock bulletins with the perforated edge that attached to the "guest card," and thinking about how many fall into the trash can on the way out.
It would be easy for me to say I have no choice in feeling the way I do. These are my personal feelings, that have been birthed out of many other experiences that have shaped my faith and understanding of the church. I wish that, on Sundays like last Sunday, I could simply walk into a church and enjoy it for what it is - that I didn't look up at flat screens or hold the bulletin and think about the money they spend on it. Perhaps these are reasons why I've pulled away from a more traditional idea of church, and why I haven't found a church to commit to since my sad departure from my previous church (not the one I attended on Sunday). Perhaps it is the reason why I find myself sitting on the floor of an apartment on Sunday evenings discussing Jesus' life through the gospels in a historical context, instead of over spiritualizing it and creating a Jesus that didn't even exist.