This is painfully clear, we Christians like to have as many churches as possible but for really bad reasons. When I first became a believer the very next step (in my mind) was to find a church to attend. The first place you start is with your friends but you soon find out that they don’t all attend the same church. So, the question that came up in my mind was why? Why are we not all going to the same church? We live in the same area and we like the same things and we’re all Christians, so why not go to the same church. As you are about to see this is a fascinating and somewhat disturbing process of elimination which in the end leads you to what is commonly called (Your church home).
I will break these down in categories of elimination to show how a church is picked.
The first filter is an easy one, “Race”. Right off the bat, as a new believer, I was thrust back in time and introduced to “Segregation”. I personally thought that America ended segregation years ago but soon found that it was alive and well in Christianity.
The term “Black Church” came up and then later “Spanish church”, the first thought that comes to mind is (Do other races have a different belief?), the answer is “not really” but the reality is that all the racial problems in the secular world exist in the Christian world and at times to a higher degree.
In fact, Sunday, is the largest day of segregation in the United States. O.o
The next filter is, “Belief”. I soon found out that I had to be somewhat granular with what I believed.
- Dance or no dance
- Sing or no sing
- Spiritual powers activate or none
- mix race couples Yay or Nay
- Sunday or Saturday
- Trinity or no trinity
- Number of books in the bible
- Saints or no saints
- Baptize now or baptize later
That’s just the short list of why there are so many churches, It became real clear real fast that the process of interpretation ultimately leads to segregation of belief. Think of it as a house where the rooms are not connected (A house divided) but you still call it home. O.o
The next filter is “Feelings”. With the other filters now in place you are reduced to a pure level of, “How do you feel?”.
You go and decide if you feel comfortable with the people and the surroundings. Some people like opulence so the churches are very fancy. Some like a modern feel (young people). Some want to see people who are down to earth (not so fancy).
- Do they smile?
- Is the preacher nice?
- Do they have good air conditioning?
- How’s the parking?
- Do they serve breakfast?
The last filter is what I like to call, the “Creepy Factor”. It takes about a week or two before it kicks in (1-month max).
I was visiting churches (on my own) and came to a church with a packed parking lot of about 100-150 people. I walked in the door and entered the main hall and everyone in the room went silent and just stared at me. No sound from anyone, it was like a scene from a Sci-Fi movie. I never went back.
Another church was spending too much time asking me where I am when not at church. They wanted to know where I go, what I do, who I associate with, etc. This gave me the creeps, too much digging into my private life.
One preacher talked about my financial information out loud during his sermon (along with other people’s names). Took me fully by surprise and I wasn’t pleased with the exposure.
I also found that the hate factor was too high at a number of churches. For instance, in some churches, the preachers would say violent negative things about gays or women to a crowd cheering for them to die and be cast into the fire. To be surrounded by that many people cheering for fellow human beings to suffer was creepy and twisted.
In the end, I have found it best not to dedicate myself to any particular building or group that calls themselves a church. I call myself a “Visitor” and that seems to keep the creepy side of how they interact (with me) out of my privacy. I can then easily avoid the more twisted churches.
I now spend more time interacting with Christians in smaller groups with a much more interactive format. We focus on the harder Bible concepts and dig deeper into scripture meaning.