Years ago in San Diego, I experienced church community in a very deep and meaningful way. Our group of friends was so special to us. We just enjoyed being around them - included and important. Hanging out with them was fulfilling on a deep level for me. Sharing the holidays with them and their families filled a void in my soul. Giving and receiving. Celebrating and grieving. Playing and praying. It was one of the best times in my life.
Then, we moved.
I started looking for my new family. Didn't find it right away. Then, we started going to a church where I thought I could find it again. Spent almost five years waiting for it to happen, but it didn't. I "checked all the boxes": joined small groups, served, etc. Served, served, served, served. Oh yeah - did I say serve? This is also the place where I got burned as well as experienced a major burn out. Duh.
It's been about four years since that happened.
I feel like I have healed from that experience, but I am at a place where I don't really trust church to be my family anymore. In fact, I don't trust church that much. I question everything that's done (at my current church, that is). Sometimes it seems like one big, giant club. I could walk in and out every week, and no one would know the difference because its so big. I don't have any friends there. I do enjoy it when I go. I love good music and I like what my pastor has to say most of the time. My teenagers love the youth services, and that's really the main reason I go there. My younger son loves the three story play structure. OK. I tried a couple of womens' Bible studies where several hundred women watched a video and then broke up into smaller groups for discussion and prayer. I couldn't handle the direction of some of the conversations, so I just started coming for the video and then leaving. Nobody called to ask why.
I hear my pastor say that he wants people to come to know Christ, experience healing/wholeness so they can turn around and offer the same thing to others. He says he wants to reach our community. That sounds great to me. I also hear that he has his eye on a bigger property so we can build a bigger church. Really? Do we need a bigger one? Can't we just birth more smaller ones? Why is bigger better? Does it really mean more people have gotten saved and are now coming to church, or has the club just gotten bigger?
I know how I sound. If only you could hear all of the thoughts in my head.
Lately though, I long for the group of friends that enjoys being with each other so much - like I had before. I want to enjoy people, pray for them, meet their needs, feel a strong sense of belonging. I'm thinking that doesn't necessarily have to be found in church. In fact, I've been noticing lately, that real ministry truly happens outside the church. I minister God's love and compassion to so many hurting people at the hospital where I work. Its amazing. I read my Bible and pray before I go into work, asking God to use me. He does. And, its not even churchy.
Is it possible for me to experience people like this again? Someone once told me that it was just a season in my life. But, I'm really thinking that it should be all the time that you have Christian people you love and enjoy in your life. I need a Christian family. I need this.