Monday, February 18, 2013

When church membership is more like country club membership

When I became a member of this church (so I could work at my alma mater if I ever had the chance), the folks interviewing me seemed very anxious to tell me that they didn't have any expectations that I would serve within the church just because I was a member.  Most people spent their time supporting ministries outside of the church, and that was just fine with the church, they assured me anxiously, like they thought I would leave if I was actually expected to DO SOMETHING (in addition to all the work I had to do to get to that point).  They sold it like a benefit to get a candidate to take a job when there was another comparable offer being made elsewhere.  It made me pretty uncomfortable, to be honest.  What church lets people join and says, "We don't expect you to take your membership seriously or, like, do anything biblical or anything"?

After I expressed my frustration about this recently, a friend who has had lots of struggles with church people said maybe the church wasn't where my ministry would be.  I had pretty much reached that conclusion myself.  I've got two really attractive options I've been looking at for a while.  I made one last try at my church, and apparently there are no orphans, widows, or single parent families (which frankly seems to be the modern equivalent) in my church who need my gifts.  You know what?  That's a lie.  I call shenanigans.  I know there are people who could use my help, my gifts, my talents.  I just have no way of connecting with them, and the church leadership apparently does not consider them a priority.  (No lie, the leadership decided that they wanted to put all their efforts and money into nuclear family ministries, so tough noogies for singles, couples with no children, poor people, single-parent families, and everyone else outside of that particular group.)

Is it really so wild for me to feel like my church should be doing things for the orphans and widows who attend?  Like actively seeking out the members and knowing them and knowing their needs and doing something to help since the Bible is pretty clear about our responsibilities to these groups of people in our midst as the church.  I mean, is it really outrageous to think it should be standard for a church to do biblically commanded things like take care of their orphans and widows?  Or am I being silly and stubborn and unrealistic by demanding this happen in/through the church when I could just as easily go to a place where these needs are addressed by civil bodies?

I want to do the right thing, but it seems like my church just isn't interested.  Obviously, this means I'm in the wrong church.  (I'm looking for other options.)  I'm just so disappointed that these fallible humans have failed me again.  : )  Is this like the fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, or is that really too cynical?  I know we are strangers and pilgrims not of this world, people just passing through, but it hurts when the church only intensifies that feeling.

Maybe I just need to think of it as getting side-tracked on a quest and needing to get back out on the road in search of other opportunities.  Maybe that can keep me going for a while.

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