On Religion – Pt 1

The Foundation

“Which church do you go to?”

The question that inevitably comes up on the first or second date. I never know how best to answer this question because I’ve been to a number of churches, more than once.

I see you raising your eyebrows. I was anticipating that.

DSC07577
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Westerham

My Christian journey has been an uphill climb, and I haven’t reached the peak yet. I was born and raised in a Pentecostal family, a Pastor’s child, so bunking church on a Sunday was never an option. They say when I was a baby every time the congregants would shout “Hallelujah!” I’d burst into tears, frightened by the sudden noise, and my mother would have to take me outside to calm me down. I always laugh at this story because I have grown to be quite loud, and I probably make the loudest Hallelujah in church today. Sunday school was such a great part of my Christian foundation and when I was old enough, I became a Sunday school teacher myself. Scripture Union camps, all night prayers, and choir competitions – those were the Christian social scenes. I thought I’d end up with a love story as sweet as my parents – meet a boy at camp, be friends, date, court and marry.

Family
Baby Musa and Family

The Pentecostal church formed the foundation of my understanding of Christianity and for a while I felt this was it. But, they say that change is the only constant. When I was 6, my father, a revered Reverend, walked out on us and never looked back. Later I came to realise the impact it would have on my spiritual life, because as I grew older, I became wary of pastors, bishops, priests – just anyone who stood at the pulpit. Iwould always question if they were living what they were preaching, because in my experience, anything was possible. I still struggle with this today but it has protected me from being gullible because I appreciate that pastors are but men (we can debate about this another day).  As I became more aware of church politics, factions, divisions and as church splits became a trend, my foundation in the Pentecostal church was shaken. I found myself having to pick which pastor to follow as the church I had called home for years was rocked by leadership disputes. I was still young, and so I went with the choice my family made. A few years on, I started questioning the doctrine in that church and eventually stopped attending because I felt I wasn’t growing spiritually. The holy-water, back-to-sender hype had taken over and it wasn’t the good-old-gospel anymore. Leaving the church was no easy feat, it had been a great part of my life.

How am I going to spend my Sundays?

What of my Sunday school class that I’ve been teaching for over three years? 

What will people think of me?

How do I explain this to my mother? (whose opinion I hold very highly)

Those were some of the questions running through my mind the first Sunday I decided not to go to church. Difficult conversations are always a challenge for me, but my family gave me the support I needed by accepting my decision. Now I had to find a new church, a new home. And that was the beginning of a journey many avoid by staying in their comfort zones, no matter how uncomfortable they are.

To be continued…

One thought on “On Religion – Pt 1

  1. I very much appreciate your dilemma and your courage to write about it. I have had similar experiences and find myself in a very unique situation. I am a churchless Christian. I do not now, or have ever, believe in infallibility of people. Any people- regardless of title or position. It’s part of the deal, I know. Loving the unlovable- perhaps that’s what Christianity boils down to.
    But the question that plagues me, how do you stand in a congregation and raise your arms to the awe inspiring music and to glisten with hope to the words of Jesus Christ, when there are really big elephants in the room which others seem totally comfortable with? In one of my latest churches, a mildly emotionally handicapped man was asked to refrain from attending the worship service. He was very ardent in his worship, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he was asked to leave, unless it was because the church leaders or other parishioners felt embarrassed by him. I went back a few more times, but there was a part of me that died with his being uninvited to the church. This isn’t an accurate representation of the love of Jesus, I found myself saying discouragingly.
    I went to another church and another and another. At one point I was asked to deliver a sermon, which I jumped at the chance to. It has always been a lifelong desire of mine. The pastor read my sermon, as he required that I submit it to him a week prior. I haven’t heard back from him. That was 6 months ago. Not a word. And this is after several prompting email and phone calls. Nothing.
    How can we do things that are blatantly un-biblical and yet claim the be the one ‘true’ body of Christ?
    Denominations to begin with…
    Frustrated, but I remain, nonetheless, a churchless Christian.
    I look forward to reading your next installments.
    May God bless you abundantly and richly.
    Ron

    Like

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