I've been sick for a while, everyone knows that. But every now and then I have these "spells" where things are a lot worse than "normal". I've been in one of these spells for going on 5 weeks now, and while I thought there was a glimmer of hope the last few days, it just seems I'm getting deeper into it.
I'm not much of a social person, but I thought I had a circle of friends at church. Everyone talks about the "family of God" and the "church family" and the "body of Christ", I thought I had truly, finally connected with that. But during this latest bad spell I have not been able to attend church services or the Tuesday night young adult group. I just haven't had the strength to get up and go.
During that time I have not gotten one phone call, not one email, not one Facebook message, not one @twitter reply. No one. Not the elders, not the preacher, none of my so-called friends has made any attempt to even simply ask "how are you doing?"
Now, I know that it's a rough time for everyone. Everyone seems to have something going on. But in the church I thought we were supposed to take care of each other. I thought, especially in this church where we join hands every Sunday and sing "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God", that people took care of each other. And they do. Just, apparently, not me.
I almost hate to say it, but I'll just state the facts: those who give the most, get the most. Those who are able to financially contribute the most to this church get the most attention. Those who have the money to bring the lavish dishes to the potlucks get the phone calls and visits and invitations to lunch. People like me, who don't have much, but give what they can, pretty much get ignored.
That's a problem with the leadership, but when your leadership is like that, it doesn't take long before those being led act the same way. Those who have the most to give get the most attention. The church has been one big clique of the haves and the Andersen's are definitely have-nots.
This church has had problems for a very long time. Long before we joined. We knew this going in, we knew it had issues, but that's why we joined. We wanted to give of our time and talents to help this church turn around and become a living, breathing, functioning body again. I was wrong. The problems of this church are deeply rooted and, I hate to say it, short of a car accident, those problems aren't going to remove themselves. That might be rude and wrong, but it's right on the money.
My adult-age and near adult-age children have already given up. They saw it a long time ago. One is shopping around for another church that will accept her, another seems to have found one in an Assembly of God church. The third just doesn't care if they ever set foot in a church again. My wife is frustrated that everyone calls her to do work, but no one calls her to participate in the fun. I'm just lonely.
Is this a problem with church in general? Were my previous experiences with church the exceptions and not the rule? One was a relatively large church (though still tiny by mega-church standards), but even in that church, I felt I belonged. One of the elders took time to make friends with us and whenever someone was sick someone always brought chicken soup. (Really. Not kidding.) My Sunday school group was sincerely interested in my opinions and I was invited to a small men's group where I very much felt I had brothers. When we fell on desperate financial troubles we were loaned a house, rent free, for as long as we needed it.
At what point should one shake the dust from their feet and move on? At what point can you truly say a church is dead and you can no longer be a part of it? I keep hoping that at some point things will change, that the work that's been put into this church will change. But all the fruit this church bears is sour. And it's only gotten worse.
I'm hesitant to move to another church. Part of it is that I've studied the Bible and I see that things are a certain way, or are supposed to be a certain way, in the church. Not all churches believe what I believe. This "denomination" comes closest to what I see as true. There aren't any other churches of this "denomination" around here. (I use that term for lack of another. The church I belong to is independent, but comes from a long line of churches from a movement that began in the early 1800s).
I'm so confused.