By Danni Moss
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I have been open here about my personal struggles with the church, primarily because I know my experience is shared by many others who have experience the same thing. (See my articles A Look at Why Abuse Victims Stop Attending Church and Evicted From the Church.) As I’ve said numerous times, I have no problems with God – God and the Western organization called the Christian church are two different things.
However, I also cannot escape the facts that God called me to minister to the church, Jesus still loves the church (as a collective body of Christ in reality), and He still uses the church undeniably. So, when I came out of the church, I always knew it was for a brief time. It was for me to get some perspective and healing, and to hopefully be led by God back into a body somewhere I could belong and serve freely, without judgment.
I have to say it was a rather difficult process. I evaluated a LOT of churches – checking them out online and researching deeply. I met with persistent roadblocks everywhere I looked. There was nowhere I could fit theologically and as a person without compromising in ways I was unwilling to compromise – in different ways from one church or denomination to another.
Over time, my desire to get back into a church grew. The gifts and calling of God on my life are almost intrinsically tied to church life. And I missed the relationships, the support, the “something” that just is in a church setting that can never be sitting in front of a computer watching a church service or being in the Word and worshiping God privately.
Finally, in the past several weeks I knew it was time, though I still didn’t know where. I decided to attend church with a friend, even though her church was 45 minutes from me. I knew from checking the church outline, listening to sermons, etc. that I could at least attend church as a guest without significant problems and I would be able to get a better look at the church by being there in person.
One of the hardest things about this has been being willing to trust again. I can’t say that I’m fully there yet; but in little steps, God is getting me closer. It was very difficult to take the first step back in the doors.
And I can’t say it was happily ever after on the first try. While I enjoyed the services I attended very much, there were a couple things that really stuck in my spirit and I wasn’t sure I would be able to fellowship on a permanent basis. But I decided to check out their membership and involvement process more thoroughly to see if I could get my deeper questions answered.
I think God was very merciful to me! Within two days, I had my answer and it was a definite no. Without me even having to ask, the person who gave me information about their membership class answered one of my first questions – do they require people sign a covenant for membership. Yes, they do, and no, I won’t – for several reasons I will write about one of these days. Since involvement in the church beyond just attending services is predicated on church membership, that church is definitely out for me.
But literally within minutes of closing the door to that church, I found out about two churches to check out that are right near me. Right off the bat, I know I agree with these two churches more theologically than any I’ve ever been in. So I am excited to see what further contact reveals.
Regardless, I know God is reconciling me to the church, and I’m glad. It has been a slow and very cautious process, which isn’t finished yet. But I know He has a place for me and I’m excited to get back into a local body.