I’m a fairly new church goer, and I have very mixed feelings about it. what got me there is rather a long story so I’ll keep this post to how I’ve found the experience.
A lot of times it’s boring and daggy and out-of-touch. Often I’m fighting sleep or wringing my hands in exasperation.
In Australia, churchgoing is notably countercultural. Religion is often viewed as an old-fashioned, a mere superstition, of little use in a modern society – and even as a damaging force that encourages intolerance and conformity (which is sadly very accurate sometimes).
And while I absolutely understand why these views have emerged, I also see immense value in the faith – particularly in a world where so many seem to struggle to find a sense of peace and purpose.
For me church (and the community it fosters) is a place to gather around a shared quest to discover what is good and true in life. It’s a group of people trying their best to look out for and love one another, no matter (and because of) their fault or folly.
And the core tenets of Christianity (the simple, sensible bits) paint a picture of humanity that resonates quite profoundly.
And yet church itself is still somewhere I wouldn’t want to take my non-Christian friends. The daggyness is part of it, but I also think they often do a terrible job of explaining the faith to those who do not share it.
It seems many forget that people will experience Christianity loaded with their own experiences, fears, beliefs, values and prejudices – and our own representations of the faith will be seen through this frame.
The rigidity of church culture, bad past experiences (mean nuns, intolerant neighbours, the zealot on TV, for example) will all form part of the way they experience expressions of faith, and we must always communicate with this in mind.
So, I’m going to be brave(ish) and talk about faith and religious community on this blog sometimes. To try to both share the faith in a more accessible way – and to explore ways the church could be better at doing this themselves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts along the way!
Do you go to church? Have a faith? Why/why not?