I've been having conversations with people about the same thing. And again, I am so moved by their honest struggles and the fact that they choose to share them with me.
I am grateful. And, in the midst of gratitude, I'm really struggling with all this. After all, I am a minister...in a church. And it's not only about the reality that the church is where my paycheck comes from, but I feel really committed to the church. And my heart breaks each time that I hear someone say that they need to leave the church. My heart breaks largely because I know that churches and church people have done so much damage to people that many can live more freely and more faithfully outside of the church than inside the church.
And these things I believe...churches are not perfect,
going to church is not the same thing as having a relationship with God,
going to church is not a necessity.
I struggle with the failure of the church to be the body of Christ.
I struggle with the busy-ness and business of the church that is necessary but that sometimes gets in the way of people's relationship with God.
I struggle with all of this...as a minister...as a mom. I struggle with wanting my children to be part of a faith community and fearing the hurt they will receive at the hand of the church.
I find myself believing in the importance of congregational life and sometimes I find myself wanting to run away, to escape the very thing I love.
I have to admit I have always been a person who believes that I can best work change from the inside rather than from leaving. But sometimes working change is exhausting. And sometimes I'm aware that I don't even know what change I should be working on.
I struggle because I catch glimpses of the wonderful gifts that are shared when the church lives out its calling to be the body of Christ. I struggle because the very people who are leaving the church are the very people who the church needs in order to become more of who God designed us to be.
I know the church is not perfect - not even close, but I believe the church can offer something. And I am seeking to discover what that is.