A church for everybody?
I join the ranks of singles, gays, artists, doubters, divorcees, addicts, non-english speakers, graveyard shifters and liberals; all misfits within the mainstream evangelical church culture. I’m a sock without a match. I’ve become an introvert with issues. I’m a church goer without a church.
The church doesn’t work for me right now. My anxiety and inability to handle too much noise automatically makes church a big pile of no. Add the obligatory hand shaking, people greeting, passing of peace and I’m a goner.
This place I have loved for the entirety of my life has become an edifice of challenges that reinforce the feeling that I’m a round peg in a square hole. “Get over it”, some say. “Work your way back in”, as if just going for a few minutes more each and every week will inoculate me to the symptoms of my mental illness. Or, my personal favorite, the guilt tactic. “The Bible says, don’t give up meeting together”. (Heb. 10:25) So, I am supposed to trigger my anxiety and disease, making me sick for the next week so you don’t feel badly about us not being together? Well, guess what? I didn’t WANT to give up. I didn’t want to quit. I love the church but the system just doesn’t work for me.
The western church has by-in-large become a place where white families with families and some access to privilege and resources fit the mold. These families can afford to send their kids to camps, have time to drive their children to mid-week church activities and help them with earning their badges and advancements for those activities. They can give in the offering and have time to do Bible Studies midweek. They generally haven’t worked all night so are alert enough to get to church on Sunday Morning. The “misfits” are singles who have no-one to sit with, blue collar workers who are barely making ends meet, outspoken political liberals who are afraid to speak their passion, artists who’s art form is never ever used in worship even though it is how they express their own adoration of God, recovering addicts who dare not celebrate their milestones except in their recovery groups. All misfits. And me.
For the record. I haven’t given up “meeting together”. I have relationships with friends and family that are still rich and good. And we meet. And we talk about faith. I just don’t meet at “church”.
What, I wonder, would a church that strove to accommodate the misfits, welcomed their quirks with grace, look like? Should the format be changed to accommodate the fringe or should the fringe get over our damn selves and try to blend into the melee of the extroverted western church?