I hate church. What the??? But if I am completely honest I do hate a lot of what we call Church, and what I’ve put myself through for more than two decades of my life.
I am a pastor, and have been most of my adult life in some capacity. I love people, most of the time. I’ve studied and shown myself approved, and sacrificed to some degree financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.
So why do I hate church? I love Jesus, I love my heavenly Father, I love Holy spirit, I love angels, heavenly bodies. I love the cloud of witnesses, and the whole family in heavenly places. I love His presence; getting so whacked in Jesus I can hardly move, let alone speak. I love praying together in the spirit and hanging out with others in that space. I love the bible and reading and studying it. I love worship in all its forms. I love to praise Him, and I love eating and laughing together as one big family. I love seeing people being introduced and enjoying Jesus, the love of the Father, and the presence of Holy spirit. That is awesome!
I love baptisms; both of them. I love being part of people’s lives being changed, and people growing to be all they were created to be. I love and see it as a privilege, and not my right that I am able to share both one on one, and corporately God’s word and the treasures of heaven. I love answered prayer, healings, miracles and the wonder and majesty of our magnificent God. I love that I get to serve Him, and that He rescued me, and set my feet on a solid foundation in Him. I love that I have a family bigger than my natural one.
But there is another side to church I don’t love. Actually I’ve grown to dislike it intensely. I see it regularly, both up close and further afield. I’ve been wounded and burnt by it more times than I’d like to admit.
I’m a mum of six children; and now I have a little grand daughter, and a fantastic son-in-law. I’m married to quite frankly a spectacular, talented called by God, very intelligent, witty, big hearted, loving, courageous, tough, with a faith that moves mountains, man of God. I have no hesitation in saying he is very very special, and the world is a far better place for having him in it. And I want better for them! I want church to be better for them, for their children and their children’s children! We have to do better!
I hate the pressure I too often feel and have felt as a pastor to perform; to come under people’s expectations. I hate the toil and striving that I too often have bowed to. The rushing about, the stress. I know God desires us to have more freedom than that. More joy, more peace; less toil.
I’ll say it, people can be exhausting and when they come at you accusing you of all sorts, I can’t retaliate. I’ve been busy every weekend for decades, on no or low pay, and made an effort to do my best with people; listened, prayed, counselled, spent sleepless nights battling against principalities and powers on their behalf, for them to often get offended, cut you, and leave anyway.
All this just leads to having trust issues. In church do we really have to watch our backs, and all too frequently pull the knife out when someone sticks it to you? Do people really think they can spout off because they are just feeling upset, and it won’t get around and eventually back to you, causing havoc you have to clean up in the wake of their hissy fit! Aren’t people tired of that yet??
How is any of that different to the kingdom of darkness? Church has taken in the world’s system; the Babylonian system of dog eat dog, my rights, self focused way of looking at life. Instead of family there has crept in hierarchy and position, and the attitude of look at me and my title. When did we need position and title to serve freely, and to know we have value in God’s and others eyes?
So I’ve come to the decision. I am done with the Babylonian institution that too often is identified by Jesus followers, and onlookers, as “Church”. I don’t think church as many people know it is what Jesus has in mind.
God is dismantling that in me. Is it painful? Yes it is; but my identity is not in an institution, or a building; in a name or a title. It is found in Jesus. I am in Him and He is in me.
Even if it means letting go of everything I have learnt and known, I want better! I see better. I see lives on mass being changed, renewed, and blessed. I see family, not hierarchy. I see joy and bliss, not stress and toil. I see music, art, colour and life. I see children, and adults, young and old. But most of all I see Jesus central to it all.
We can do “Church” better!