What’s the one unavoidable fact you’re going to come up against sooner or later when attending an event at a church run by the church? Yep: you will be evangelised to.
Once upon a time that would not have bothered me.
I miss a portion of the friendships from my old church, but I can’t stand the preaching anymore. Nor can I honestly sing the songs I used to love to play, either. As a compromise, I thought I’d go to some of the less central events, such as the Men’s Breakfasts that happen every few months. The last one was last weekend. Not being part of the church life anymore has distanced me from the place. This, I knew. But I realized for the first time that being part of the church’s life is what makes the small talk in such meetings work.
As is the normal structure, they have a speaker after everyone has (mostly) eaten enough. The topics can vary wildly. The last one I went to looked at some hokum numerology on the Bible texts. Last week was very evangelical. The pastor of a church they are looking to merge with spoke about his up-bringing. It was a fairly typical drunken-rebellious-teenager-finds-Christ-turns-his-life-around stories. Mike had gone further than most before the big turnaround, though, including petty crime and other things of that ilk.
Since I kind of know the guy, I would have little doubt that the story is true. Nonetheless I was annoyed. Annoyed because I’d tricked myself about it. I don’t want to not go there again, but I will have to check the topic for next time.
You see, the spiritual ground I am walking on has shifted at once subtly and radically in the last month or so.
By the time I realized I was on this journey, I’d been questioning and seeking things about the Bible that the church doesn’t teach at all well, if at all. Then I got permission from Yahweh to go explore outside the church’s walls. That was when I went Wiccan, but always with one eye on Christianity. I had some mad dream to combine the two, as I know others have done. Along the way I joined a Pagan circle and became a regular, opening up to spiritual things I had never contemplated before.
Once or twice Yahweh found me out on my journey. And every time he was happy I was finding where I should be and in no way wanted me to go back to what the church had built. And just in the last few weeks I truly feel he’s set me free. Free from “churchianity”. Free to leave him behind. Free to not consider myself any sort of Christian anymore.
It is an odd feeling in some ways. Yet it feels right.
It also means I am not at home in the midst of church-based evangelising anymore. They don’t know it probably should be aimed at me, but they’d misunderstand anyway.
My spiritual ground has shifted. Away from the “Church”.