I Am An 'Unchurched' Christian
If you google the words "unchurched Christian", what you'll find is first, a Barna survey exploring the percentages of individuals who claim to be Christians but don't attend church, and second, quite literally thousands of blogs, articles, "Pastor's Corners", and comments from churched Christians on why *they* think these people no longer attend, why *they* think these people are in the wrong, and the most appalling display of Christian cultism, tips and tactics for how to "assimilate" and "reach out to" unchurched individuals.
The idea is simple if you're a church attending Christian: Jesus is coming back for "the Bride", the Bride is the church, so if you aren't in Church you can't *really* be a successful Christian, and eventually you will turn away from God and deny Him and end up in Hell. The end.
There's a lot of emphasis in the modern day church placed on gathering with other Christians. In Hebrews 10:25 the writer, whom many believe to be Paul, says, "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
This is pretty cut and dry for churched Christians. The "meeting together" is the church and here Paul, assumedly, is directing us to go to church because it's for our own good, and because Christians worship (yes, worship) Paul and revere him as the greatest writer of the New Testament, what he says goes. And honestly, yes, being a Christian and going to church does make it easier.
But why? It's easy to be a churched Christian because no matter what you've seen or done that week, every Sunday you get to be around other people who believe everything you do and that feels just like Mommy putting fresh powder on a diaper rash. It's comforting, it's safe, it's sequestered, it's secluded, it's distant, it's cliquish, it teeters on the edge of cultish...
I never find blogs from people like me. And by me I mean passionate, intense, serious, devoted, and committed believer in God my Father, but staunchly opposed to the modern church and all brands of Christian denominations. In truth I haven't yet met ANYONE else like myself and my husband. We simply do not fall under that category of angry, hurt Christians rebelling against church because we're pissed off. This just isn't us. We aren't mad at God. We love Him. We live for Him. Every single decision we make we take to Him first. Every heartache we bring to Him on our knees. And every blessing we raise to Him in thanks. Everything I am and have today is from Him. I have done nothing of any merit to deserve how good He is to me. And yet, He is good. My faith in Him is unfaltering, and moreover, strengthened since leaving church behind.
Being an Unchurched Christian is like walking blindfolded, with earplugs in, wandering around in the desert trying to follow a distant drumming you can't hear, but can feel in your chest. Because I read the Bible I have an internal map giving me suggestions on which directions I should be pointing to follow the drumming, but other than that I go alone, or rather, we go alone. There is no warm fuzzy feeling and high from a weekly dose of rousing worship and singing. There are no actual voices burned into my brain from fellow Christians talking about the latest praise report and prayer request. I feel tired. I feel scared. And I feel alone. But I keep walking, arms outstretched, moving forward, following the beating, because I trust that God is at the end of my journey and if I just keep moving and believing He will bring me to Him.
When you're raised in church, as my husband and I were, you associate church with God, and are unable to separate the two. I'd like to go a step further and say Christians have replaced God with Jesus, and worship Jesus as their main deity, with God kind of looming overhead watching stuff go down but not really getting too involved. It's like God is the guy who designed that fancy car you drive, but Jesus is the one who gave it to you on your 16th birthday. Sure, we appreciate God for it being His idea, but come on! Jesus gave us a car! We see the church as this go between for us and Jesus and God. To be close to Jesus, we go to church. (Which is the complete opposite of what Jesus came to Earth to do.)
We admire portraits of Caucasian Jesus hanging in the halls, we sing triumphant songs memorializing Jesus' achievements, and we tearfully listen to "messages" from the Bible regarding whatever issue we might be having. We shake hands, we hug, we tithe, we laugh, we smile, and we go home feeling rejuvenated and content. We feel like we can take on the world. We feel like we can make it after all. We feel so strong and so brave.
But hold up a second...