Monday, January 30, 2012

Church Shopping and People Judging

Lately I've been noticing something and it got me thinking yesterday about it a lot.  There are sooooo many churches out there. In America you can find them everywhere.  I at least have 10 within one mile of my house.  There are all kinds of churches with all kinds of people.  The same theme I've been hearing is "I don't go there because of THOSE people.

I've been guilty of thinking like that.  Although, I've been to the same church for 12 years I've definitely had negative thoughts here and there.  I think everyone has in mind their favorite type of church. Some look for the programs, others the style of preaching, the beauty of the building, style of worship, sports offered, etc.  Some want it ALL.  Well, I grew up in church so I've heard a ton of reasons why.  The only one I've been guilty of thinking is negativity about the people.  I had been majorly hurt in the past (who hasn't?) and so for many years I would go to church and just try to keep to myself.  Often, while sitting in my seat, I'd look around and just watch all the interactions around me while getting my kids settled for the service.  Once the service was over I would pick up my kid from nursery, get my kids together, maybe say hello to a couple of people and just head out.  I did this for over a decade as a way of protecting myself, never giving thought to how it might look to other people.  Keeping to myself could of come off as snobby or disinterested.  

Ashley playing over the floor vent
Recently, I decided to turn look in the mirror at my hesitancy.  I hadn't gotten close to many people while trying to protect myself.  In the process, I even managed to become shy and really had to push myself just to go up and shake someone's hand.  Even worse, I began to make judgments in my mind towards others.  I had enough of my excuses and decided it was time to reach out again.  No more listening to the negative whether from myself or from cynical people. I have never been shy and always extremely outgoing in the past.  I started to say hi to people I made silent judgments about and spent at least 5 minutes asking about their day.  In the last few weeks I've been shocked at the transformation not only in my attitudes but in seeing my horrible perceptions of people slowly melt away. 

Kyle and Ivy (Right) playing with their friends after church
First off, no church is perfect.  No church has it ALL.  Some might be mega and give you everything you can ever dream of in a church but the preaching or teaching is lacking big time.  That's top on my list above all else.  Does what he preach line up with the bible?  Is there a comprising just to keep the numbers up? There will always be mean, nosy, annoying, and even downright obnoxious people (at least a couple).  Pastors can make mistakes in a judgement call or a rebuke, people can make mistakes in how they treat someone, and I've made plenty. If there is a perfect church, I would ruin it as soon as I walk in. There is just no such thing.  Sure I've been offended but there is a BIG chance I've offended others at some point.  Sometimes without even realizing it.  

I've  been looking forward to service more than ever since I decide to lay all my dumb judgments aside and give people a chance.  If anything I had to repent of my attitudes.  It's been a blessing to be more involved and get to know people better. The church is like a family.  You can't choose who's in it, only how your attitude responds to them.  How has my attitude been affecting my kids?  It definitely rubs off on them.  I've been really encouraging the ones old enough to walk around by themselves (8 and up) to get to know other kids and make friends.  It's been a joy seeing them more excited also.  I absolutely love our pastor and his teaching which is most important to me.  Sure our kids have Sunday School and Children's Church but after that there really are not many other programs.  However, that's at the bottom of what's important to me so that's not a big deal.  As far as people problems?  Well, it happens.  Just like in a family.  You just forgive and move on.  I would hope people would do the same for me.


Karen said...

Well said!

Bonnie said...

Someone once said to us as we were adjusting to work in a new church (and complaining a bit ourselves)..."Oh you mean your church is full of people." Yea. No perfect people anywhere--good thing Jesus is perfect! :-) Loved your post.

Unknown said...

I agree.. a church is our family