Are You There God, It’s Me, Alyson

December 20, 2008

Remember me?  Chubby brunette, curly haired, two adorable little boys…….just thought I’d refresh your memory since it’s been so long since we’ve had a very serious heart to heart.  It’s just really hard for me to have alot of faith in Christianity at the present time. 

I know you know all this, but still, I’m confused, angry and hurt.   My church home has become a place for bickering and fighting and one-upping over the stupidest of things.  In the past few months I have heard alot of ugly things from the mouths of fellow Christians whom I have always looked up to.  Most of these comments have stemmed from the issue of our pastor wanting to pay our church musician a meager salary of $1,000 a year.  

I have even heard of one church member say that, while the pianist might get paid for her services when she performs them in other congregations, our church shouldn’t have to pay her because, “we own her”.    God, would you please tell me when slavery became legal again, because apparently I missed the memo. 

And Lord, it doesn’t stop there.  People are upset at our pastor for opening this can of worms in the first place and are nit-picking everything he does, rarely having the gall to take up these issues with him.  Instead they often spend the whole Sunday School hour, a time meant to study your word, blasting the pastor.  

When, the new pastor tries to, heaven forbid, do anything different, such as alter our worship time by a mere 15 minutes, or conserve paper by printing fewer bulletins and asking them to share, they refuse to even give his suggestions a try, instead, they run straight to his boss, our district superintendent, to tattle on him.  These 50 somethings are exhibiting a maturity level far lower than that of the preschoolers I teach in Sunday School and quite frankly, I’m tired of it. 

I know that much of their stubborness stems from the fact that we didn’t want to lose our last pastor, and having him replaced by a 20-something kid was like adding fuel to the fire for many people.  Honestly though Lord, can’t you put in their heads something to the effect of, “Robert’s gone people, get over it”.  While you’re at it, throw in there that, “change can be good”.  Our membership numbers are declining, and have been for several years.  There are very few people at our church who are willing to work with the children, and the few that do it, myself included are tired of doing it.  It seems to me that we just want to attend for an hour or 2 on Sunday mornings, sit and listen, pretending to take it all in, then go about our lives, never inconvenienced by something so petty as doing something for the members of your church.  It doesn’t take a genuis to see that if we don’t change our ways our church will continue its downward spiral. 

What is really making this whole thing difficult for me is that I’ve been spending alot of time at the local Baptist church (gasp).  They have events and programs for my kids, and my kids love them.  Karate boy can recite several Bible verses on his own now, and has learned more about your word in the last 4 Wednesday nights than he has in the last 6 years at our church.  The people there are nice and welcoming, and not at all the snobs that I had been lead to believe them to be.   

As I said, I’m confused, even more now since while pondering this post whilst going  about my duties at work my thoughts were interrupted by the following lines blaring from my MP3 player:

There was a time when truth and trust meant so much more to each of us
And all the dreams that once we had have seen the sun and left us feeling bad

Now the changing of the guard has left us feeling so damn hard
I’ll keep my business, but I’m a little bit afraid
Through the years one thing hasn’t changed

Yeah, yeah, yeah-hey
I would run through fields of fire,
I would crawl on broken glass,
Just to swin in your sea of devotion, just to have a second chance
That’s all I ask

Now feeling good is not good enough, I know they’ve changed but not that much
Midnight time has left us feeling beaten up, I never was one who needs to give enough
I ain’t a hero who gets the girl, but if I had my chance to save the world
I won’t blow it now,
I guess I’ll understand
This boy becoming a man

 Just when I had made up my mind that the time was right for me and my family to move on, to find somewhere to worship where I would be happier, you send a Bon Jovi B-side to screw with me.  Is changing of the guard, the new pastor?  Is my chance to save the world the chance to save my church, by staying and trying to make it better?  Do you even talk to people through what some percieve to be the devil’s music?  Are Bon Jovi songs the only way you can get me to listen?  If so, is that a bad thing?  Is my brain going to explode from pondering all of this? 

I’ll be waiting for your answers.



15 Responses to “Are You There God, It’s Me, Alyson”

  1. bluesuit12 Says:

    Yikes sorry to hear about all the drama! I know I’ve been guilty of this from time to time in the past but I hope I’ve grown out of it. There’s nothing worse than going to church to feel good and happy and come away with negativity and annoyance. Maybe you should give a talk on kindness or unity or something. Well, I don’t know if your church has members speak or not so maybe a lesson in one of the classes or something.

  2. Alyson Says:

    It really is bad when you come back from church feeling worse than before you went. Sometimes I feel like I would be happier if I stayed home.

    Great idea about the lesson. Our lay-leader recently did that very thing, although I think it fell mostly on deaf ears…….oh well.

  3. Remember that these are people and all people are flawed. Most congregations go through periods like this and things usually divide up into two groups. It would be good for an outside person to come in and mediate the differences. I do not know you denomination, but there are scriptural examples of such mediation.

  4. Brian Says:

    I can understand much of what you’re going through. Some would blame church bickering on the devil, but I say it’s just human nature. No matter where you put more than 2 or 3 people in a room, there will eventually be disagreements and immaturity. It’s just so much harder to digest when it’s coming from those who profess a deeper understanding of why we’re all here.

    I think you touched on an important reason why churches are declining – we Americans are far too selfish to keep them afloat. The many want to be catered to by the few. There’s always a core group of people who shoulder the burden of running the church while the rest just show up and reap the benefits. It’s the same everywhere, I’m afraid.

    Great post. Love the honesty and I’m sure God is listening (and He might even like Bon Jovi music!).

  5. Alyson Says:

    @ electrician: I know, myself included in the flawed part. I know this isn’t the first time our congregation has gone through this, maybe I’m just more aware this time.
    FYI: I’m Methodist.

    @ Brian: I agree, bickering is just homan nature.

    I agree about the decline of the church. I think the few catering to the many goes back to a marketing principal that I learned in college, the 80/20 rule, meaning 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. I’m sure it’s the same everywhere.

    I sincerly hope that God loves Bon Jovi music. It won’t be heaven without Bon Jovi music.

  6. Brian Says:

    I’ve been thinking about this post a lot, and it has actually helped me make the decision to start back to church. Thank you for that!

  7. alyson Says:

    Wow. I’m honored that my ramblings had an effect on you. Really. Wow.

  8. Red Says:

    Wow, Alyson . . Church is supposed to make you feel good. I just don’t know how much of that I’d take, before looking for another church to call home.

  9. Alyson Says:

    I know, that’s one of the things I, along with several others are really struggling with right now. I come home feeling stressed, and worse than I did before going……….Ugh.

  10. Pammy Girl Says:

    One of the church congregations I attended several years ago was like visiting hell. I loathed being there because it was more of a fashion show and popularity contest than church. We even dubbed the front church lobby as the “work it room” due to all the work and social soliciting.

    Gossip was rampant. People weren’t just judgmental… they were cruel. I cried a lot, had several panic attacks and finally stopped going, only to have people asked why I didn’t go anymore. When I told them the response was, “You don’t go to church for people, you go to hear the gospel.” Uhuh. I know. I think I can read the scriptures in my own home and get more out of them than being at church with you good people.

    It’s been 6 1/2 years since I stopped going to that church but if I ever see some people from back in the day, those feelings return. Life is much better now that I’m somewhere else.

  11. Alyson Says:

    What a terrible experience. Hopefully you have found a much more accepting/loving congregation.

  12. That’s horrible. But all too common in churches these days. Why do you think I left the last church I was at?

  13. Add a little to the previous comment, I was a Youth Pastor and the PARENTS were taking over the Youth Church — it was ridiculous.

  14. Alyson Says:

    It’s so sad that this is common. No wonder the demise of organized religion is occurring.

  15. […] 13, 2009 I have struggled with my church alot lately.  First here.   Then again here , and again so many times that there is not enought time to post them […]

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