Sunday, January 14, 2007


We're less than halfway through January, and 2007 is already promising to be a year that is rather...well, interesting.

After much prayer, study, soul-searching, discussion with friends and advisers, sleepless hours, and uncountable hours of analyzing things from every angle we could, my husband and I have made the painful decision to leave our church. Today was our first Sunday to go elsewhere. The church we visited was friendly and warm, and we knew several people there. The worship seemed fresh and real. The man who filled in for the pastor had a powerful testimony, and his message seemed to speak to an issue that I'm currently living out in my life.

But it wasn't home.

I have often wondered if church is forever ruined for me. (Read Michael Spencer's post on that topic here.) Part of it is, of course, being raised as a P.K. (Guys, that meant "Preacher's Kid" long before it meant Promise Keeper.) No pastor can fill my father's shoes. Besides, I've seen the dark underbelly of the church, and it has wounded me forever.

But there is more...I've also seen, as Michael Spencer writes so eloquently, "When I discovered the voice and practices of the ancient church, and the language of the ecumenical church, I resonated deeply. All of the church was my home, but no single room within it made me so comfortable I wanted to stay there and there only."

No church is ever enough for me. It seems that I always long for more, for something different, for some part of my heart and mind to be touched in a way that no one church has ever been able to touch. I want expository preaching and deeply heartfelt worship and beautiful architecture and pipe organs and liturgy and spontaneity and unadorned simplicity and lay pastors and ordained clergy and formality and informality and ancientness and newness --- and there is no church crazy enough and contradictory enough to give me all of that, to feed all those parts of my soul.

I want a church that follows a glorious historical tradition...and a church that also offers, at times, a worship experience that is the spiritual equivalent of "partying down at the frat house." (The last time we were looking for a church, a pastor friend of mine told me that I would never be happy in a church that didn't encourage me to be a serious student of the Word. But he also told me that I would probably need to go elsewhere on occasion for a more exuberant expression of worship. "After all," he said, "there is nothing wrong with partying down at the frat house.")

Most of all, I want a church that is, as another friend of mine said, a safe place to land. I want a church that will not, yet again, add to my woundedness. I want a church that will instead minister healing.

The truth is that I'm not always sure what I want. I've found bits and pieces of my "church home" here and there but, in every church since I was a teenager, I've felt like a sojourner or, at best, a member of the extended family. I am already weary at the idea of searching for a new church, because I doubt that I will ever, this side of Heaven, find what I'm longing to find.

I want to see Jesus. Just show me Jesus.


  1. "I want to see Jesus. . "

    Jesus stuck with some pretty crummy fellow church members! And the leadership! They condemned him to death!

    I am afraid you will never find the perfect church this side of the Jordan. I'm not sure how bad a church has to get before you leave. . .I'm sure you've thought about it quite a bit.

  2. Thank you for putting into words that thing that I have been feeling since my late teens. The closest I have ever come was the church on an Air Force Base, perhaps because we came from so many different directions...


  3. Rebecca, I enjoyed Michael Spencer's post. It reminded me of being in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in college. We were a simply Christian fellowship, and went to many different churches where the students who lived in town attended. So I got a feel for what is called the "Universal Church." That is what I took from his blog entry.

    I will be praying for a good fellowship for you and your family.

  4. That is so hard. Praying you find a place that, although not perfect, is a foretaste of heaven!

  5. praying you find that safe place to land.

  6. Incredibly rich, incredibly beautiful, and, as is your trademark, incredibly honest. Thank you, Rebecca.


  7. Superb! This so rang for me, Rebecca! Thank you!

    May I include it in our church newsletter?

  8. Ricky, yes you may use it in your church newsletter. I'd feel honored.

    Heart, thanks so much for your loving comment.

    And everyone, thanks for the prayers. We, especially my husband, are not ones to take church-leaving lightly. I have to confess that over the years I've been tempted to cut and run when the going gets a bit tough, but my husband is usually of the mindset that as long as a church isn't apostate or we aren't asked to leave, it's better to stay until the end. (We've actually experienced being one of the last five remaining families in a church.)

    So this has not been easy. Just yesterday morning, we had our traditional Wednesday morning church discussion. My husband has been taking off Wednesday mornings for months, in order to do some urgent woodworking projects for his office. Said projects keep languishing in the garage because we end up analyzing the church situation from all angles...yet again. That's on top of the late nights and the weekends.

    Pray for him too.