My wife and I have just started our strange and scary journey. It is a long and probably very familiar story. I’m not a writer by no means (and I am sure it will be apparent soon), but things are going all thru my head and have to get this out.
Three years ago, after a very bad experience with a “mega” church, were about to walk away from “church” when we found this small congregation. The preacher was a humble man who looked at scripture and church life different than anything we had seen before. The congregation was more of a family than anything else. We all met together regularly, and not just for the typical bible study or sermon. After services it was nothing to stay an extra hour just to talk to everyone and visit. The theme of the church was Konia and it showed. The sad thing was we knew the preacher was leaving from the get-go. He was going back to college to become a lawyer. He has a calling to help those who were less fortunate and felt that this is what God was calling him to do. We were ok with that because we felt like a family to this congregation. We had a search committee and found a replacement.
About this time I was offered the deaconship of benevolence. After much prayer I accepted. Last Christmas we were able to help 3 families, which 2 were outside of our church family. We started a food pantry and were able to have it running 3 times a week with volunteers running it.
But things started going down hill with the New Year.
I started noticing that our congregation split into clicks. Money became tight with the economy’s down-turn and tithing was being stressed with the new minister. I ended up having to close the pantry down to once a week because some volunteers refused to serve people who had “whiskey and cigarettes” on their breath.
What was the final straw was the story of Paige.
Paige was a 17 year old girl from a broken home. She had been attending our services for some time alone. One day she asked Jesus into her heart and was baptized by our youth minister. Her father was suffering from brain cancer and we prayed for Father’s will to be done. Paige’s father died a couple of months later. As benevolence deacon, I made sure we ordered flowers and that the news would go out to the whole congregation. The funeral was on a Wednesday night. My wife and I showed up to pay our respects and to show support for our young sister. WE WERE THE ONLY ONES FROM OUR CONGREGATION THERE!!!! I was appalled. After the funeral we had time to make it to Wednesday night meeting and I asked the new preacher why they didn’t attend. His answer was “it was very unfortunate that Paige’s family planned the funeral on a Wednesday night”. Yes, very unfortunate indeed.
I knew at that moment that I wasn’t going to be there long. The only reason I stayed as long as I did was the fact my wife was not on board with “organic church”. She is a preachers daughter and a lot of IC is ingrained into her. But she has finally seen what I have been seeing. We spent last weekend talking about church and what it really should be. I had finished reading Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman’s book “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore” and it has changed my life. I found out what I am missing. My first Love. A close personal relationship with my Lord and Saviour. A real one.
To bring this all home, I resigned my deacon-ship Tuesday night and told the elders that we were not coming back. We discussed why and their reply to me was that quitting wasn’t the answer and that we would be missed and loved. Ok. Anyways, now we start on our journey together. We will seek Him first. We are scared and a little confused, but we know we are in His hands. I ask everyone here to pray for us that we don’t EVER lose sight on why we are where we are at. And to always seek Him.