Expectations

I've really been struggling lately with church and what role it needs to play in my life, etc. I had an incident a week or two ago that really shook my confidence in what I thought that church was and I've really been trying to examine what I need, what my expectations are, and if church is really what I need to fulfill what I am missing--if that makes sense. I still love Jesus (maybe more than ever) and I want to serve God and serve others, but now I'm not so sure that church is a good starting point for that.

I feel like I can narrow down what I need to 2 things:

1. I need an opportunity to serve the community.

2. I need some sort of support group, I think. Like--a group of people who get together for the purpose of talking about life's joys and struggles and encouraging each other in building relationships, handling conflict, etc.

I have thought for a long time that this is what church is for. And last week's incident really made me realize how disappointed and upset I've been that church isn't meeting my needs. And I never thought of myself as one of those people who goes to church to have their needs met--I just didn't realize they were needs, I guess. I think I've just had this romantic view of what church should be like--where we are always serving the community and helping to meet other people's needs, and where we love each other, and trust each other and are totally open with our struggles etc.

I had a great discussion with some friends recently, and it was brought up that church is for worshiping God and sending us out to minister to others, where we kind of take what we learn and go out with it and use it in our everyday lives. I had heard this before, but this was the first time I really heard it as being in conflict with how I understood church.

I have really kind of been mourning that this week, I guess--Just the thought that church isn't even for what I thought it was for. I've been pretty emotional about it, but I think this is really good for me to deal with. I am realizing that I really do need some sort of support group and I really do need to help the community and I'm not going to be able to do that through church. So now I kind of feel free to look for that elsewhere. And maybe this will help me to feel free to just enjoy church as a way to worship God, and not worry about if I'm involved enough or connecting with people there in a meaningful way.

I guess it might sound like I'm giving up on church, but I'm not. I'm letting go of my expectations, which I think is a good thing. And if things change at church, that would be great--and maybe I can help by being more open--but in the mean time, I think I need to just accept it for what it is.

8 Response to "Expectations"

  1. Charlotte Ann Says:

    I don't agree with the idea that church is just for worshiping and sending those out into the world to minister. Worship is something that we can do at anytime and should do with every second of our lives (even though we basically always fail). And, as for sending those out into the world...if we are living our lives as worship for God than ministering to others is a natural consequence of that.
    Biblically the church is a gathering of believers learning from each other and sharing. That's what the early church did, lived as a unit helping and loving each other and others. A community in the most real sense of the word. That's what a church is Supposed to be. Now, what a church is now, in America is totally different (most places). Do you think that if you went to Africa they would say that church is to worship and send people out? No way! Even some churches in the US have a different culture, a culture where church can last for four hours and no one would ever notice b/c it's love and the spirit all around. I know that our church sometimes goes for at least 2 hours when Pastor Tim is filled with the Spirit and has been given certain discernments.
    What the standard, Caucasian, American church calls church is definitely not what we were intended for, I think that's why it still feels like there is something missing, something that isn't quite right.
    I don't know, that's just how I view it.

  2. valandshawn Says:

    Charlotte--I totally agree with you--But at this point, I'm not sure I'm ever going to find that.

    I think that this is maybe my coping mechanism to help me be satisfied with what I've got while I try to be more open and loving the few times that I have the opportunity.

    Some days I feel like church is just cluttered with stuff that doesn't matter--like business meetings and scripted bible studies and that the focus is on the institution of church and the institution by nature keeps us from forming strong relationships...I could go on...to be honest, I've been really cynical about it.

    And for my own health and wellbeing--i need to stop being cynical. I think maybe the first step is to just accept it for what it is--not what I think it *should* be.

    If God wants me to be an agent of change at some point down the road--that would be awesome & amazing--but I don't think that cynical people are ever agents of change.

  3. Mommykendra Says:

    Jon and I kinda discussed this, this morning. I'm really blah about the whole thing and I think part of my problem is that I was home sick for so many weeks and now have been home with a sick kid for 3 weeks in a row and I don't feel any different than I did when I went to church, except a whole lot more relaxed on Sunday mornings.
    It really saddens me that I don't have the eagerness to attend church and I need to figure out why that is.
    It's nice knowing I'm not alone in the feeling that something's missing and trying to figure out what it is and how to "fix the problem".

  4. Charlotte Ann Says:

    Val-
    It makes me kind of sad that you are at the point of accepting what you have. For my own selfish reasons, you and Shawn are some of the people that really inspired me Not to accept what IS in the church, but to know God and to look for that community, so to hear that you are kind of 'settling' is sad for me, personally, to hear. Also, I am split about the idea that cynicism doesn't bring around change. I think that if we are just cynics sitting around being cynical that is true, however, I think that if we can allow that cynicism to inspire us and help us move in Him it is a great thing. At the same time when I attended the EC church (not that this is the only church with the problem, I believe that this is an epidemic)I felt bogged down and useless. Everytime I tried to make a change I was slapped, Satan continually used people in the church to put me down and make me feel hopeless and that I couldn't change anything. For awhile I was just 'there' I accepted what was and did lose my hope. This was as a result of 'the last straw' for me in the EC denomination. However, In the last probably 6 months and ESPECIALLY in the last month and a half God has really re-built my hope and belief that I can take my cynicism, that feeling that something is missing in church, in my life, job or relationships and change it. Even if we don't notice the change at first, if we look at the little things we notice (I think the boys @ work have really helped me see that) that there is change.
    I also know that I was never 'happy' never filled with 'joy' in the couple of years when I just accepted what was, instead of always fighting for more.
    I still feel almost guilty for leaving the EC church instead of working for something better, but for me, at the time and even now, it would have killed my spirit. I just pray that God can use me to work in the EC church and other churches like it to make a difference and move toward the Truth in Christ and more Biblical living, but for now I'm just working on what He gives me and not trying to run ahead of His plan.

    I hope that you can find something or somewhere that gives you what we need as Christians out of church and that you fight for it instead of accepting it, especially because I think that Ruby, Lucy, Milo and Every child (and 'someday children' to include myself :) ) deserve something better and more fulfilling than what we have had. That's why I think that God has put a new energy and determination in 'our' generation, not only for healthier eating, 'greener' living, but also for more honest living and more Truthful churches and connections.
    Sorry if this is rambly, I started and sometimes don't know how to stop.

  5. valandshawn Says:

    Thank you so much for you're honesty, Charlotte. You've given me a lot to think about. You're right--my outlook has been a lot different lately than when we used to have Bible study in our apartment in Rockford. I definitely miss that excitement about church, and Jesus, and fellowship...but after getting beaten down for 8 years...It's a little hard to still keep my sanity and my faith in God's people.

    It's really encouraging to hear how things are going with you--and I'm definitely going to reconsider what I've been thinking. Thanks so much for making me think and reevaluate--it seriously means a lot to me.

    I love you a ton,
    val

  6. valandshawn Says:

    i just read a bunch of the comments on don miller's blog from yesterday...wow. I am just shocked, and in awe, and humbled that there are other people out there like me...or that I immediately feel a connection with someone after reading a comment they made on a blog. i want to hang out with these people! no wonder i have a hard time making friends at church--none of the people like me go to church!

    http://donmilleris.com/2010/05/18/does-your-church-cultivate-leaders-or-just-church-leaders/

  7. Deaver Says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.
  8. Deaver Says:

    Val - sorry for the late post, I'm just catching up on your blog.

    I think you're right - there's not a lot of people "like you" at church. But I know there are a few, and there may be more who are looking for that deeper connection. I know that was true in my case here, but I had to be willing to put myself in a vulnerable position and say "hey, I need something more than what is being offered, anyone want to join me?" And sure enough, there were at least 8 people who had the same vision of connection, community, intimacy, friendship, and serving together. Maybe pray for God to bring that group of people into your life. I don't think you'll get what you are looking for by waiting, because I think the fact that you (and Kendra) are desiring more is an indication God may be speaking to both of you to do something about it. He's giving YOU the vision, who else do you need permission from?