November 9, 2010

Going to Church

I am still in love with looking at my blog stats. I am not sure what I find more exciting, the number of people visiting on any given day, or the location they come from. There is just something exciting about someone from Slovakia taking a peek and something I've written.

Now some of this traffic is no doubt accidental. Not unlike my foot print showing up on what appeared to be a Russian blog when I hit 'next blog'. Sure I landed there but I didn't stick around to read anything, not that I could if I wanted too.

But it is the non-accidental traffic that I find interesting. My most viewed blog is Stop Going to Church and Be The Church. It is interesting because I wrote that before I shamelessly started posting on Facebook that I was doing this. Near as I can tell people have found it for two reasons. They either have searched for the phrase stop going to church and be the church, or they have searched stop going to church.

The entry back in September addresses the first group. But the second group, the person who was wondering if it was OK if they stopped going to church wasted a mouse click because nothing I said had anything to do with that.

Today I want to try to say something to that group.

When I thought about not going to church I almost instantly thought about a number of bible passages. Such as where Jesus promised when Christians gather in his name he would be there, Paul's teachings about Christians being one body, and of course the passage in Hebrews about making sure we do keep meeting together.

But I suspect that if you are taking time to look up whether you should stop going to church you know all of those passages and probably a few I forgot. Chances are you are not having a head problem. You are not looking for an intellectual answer to a neutral question, you are experiencing a problem or crisis that is making you wonder about skipping the whole church attendance thing.

Maybe you are having a problem of boredom, or non-relevance. That each time you attend you wonder why you bothered to get out of bed. Maybe you have a problem of hypocrisy. You here what people are saying but you know how they are living too, and they don't match. Maybe you have a problem of belief, that the church takes a position on something that you disagree with.

There is no real silver bullet thing I can say to fix any of those very real problems. Many many churches fall victim to those problems or others. Instead what I really want to do is apologize to you and encourage you.

I want to apologize on behalf of church leaders everywhere for what we have allowed to happen to so many churches. The church visible seems so far from the perfect bride of Christ I read about in scriptures. Far less vibrant, far less pure, far less devoted to the kingdom. I'm sorry.

I also want to encourage you to not give up. Maybe you can be the change you desire in your church. You can become a leader and help fix some of the problems that you see or feel. But if you can't do that, because either the church is not interested in changing or what needs to be changed is not something you can do anything about; than look for another church, don't just stay at home.

Here in Halifax, NS there are a handful of really great churches, a large number of good to moderate ones, and a fair amount of junk. I suspect that is true in most places. Keep looking, sort thought the junk, there really are some great churches out there.

Can you be a Christian without going to church; I suspect so. Should you want to be a Christian that would rather avoid church, no. Is it your fault that church is not really a place you want to be, probably not. For that I am sorry, hang in there.