Monday, December 28, 2009

Is It Possible?

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.


Chelle said...

We were created for that type of fellowship. Even Jesus had his boys who walked along side of him. We are not meant to walk alone. Praying you find them, and praying we do too as we have just moved. We had that type of family back in TN, and that is why I bawled like a baby our last day. It's possible, it really is.

Ro said...

Jodi - your post made me cry. I can so relate. Years ago I experienced community with a singles group. I even met my husband there. I remember him saying we should enjoy it while we had it, since it was unique. We married, had to leave the group, and oddly enough, experienced a huge loss of community and church burnout with the same group of people as part of a church plant. Lots and lots of work. I've since moved, and feel similar to how you feel. I agree with Chelle - that we were created to worship together and community and not alone - but that community is so hard to find. While I still believe it's possible, I'm starting to feel jaded, like I'll never again find it within the church. Especially here in Colorado, where I feel so completely different from the people I worship next to. I hold out hope for you and me that we'll find community within a group of believers. A place we can call home. It has to be possible, because life without it seems so bleak.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, what words..., a magnificent idea

Lisa (the girls' moma) said...

My "church burnout" story is different in both cause and effect from both you and Rochelle's, and yet, like Ro, I feel your story as though you took the words out of my own head. In this little town I'm in I have very few options, and I've written about my struggles before. But I have come a long way and I stepped out on HUGE faith and joined a church in December. I don't feel any different - in fact, because of the holidays I haven't even been back since - but I think my decision to join was my "Is it Possible" moment. We'll see. And good luck to you, too.