Early this summer I decided that perhaps I needed to find another church. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with the big mainline denomination that my family had landed at post fundamentalism. I just felt that something essential was missing. Most people there were content to sit in the pews and play church. I was missing that passion I’d experienced in my old church and had seen in many other congregations. Passion and excitement for the things of God. Just not mixed with hateful theology of ‘Can’ts’ ‘Don’ts’ or ‘Submit’
Even during my years at Possum Creek Christian Fellowship* I’d loved worship with all my heart. I’d been part of worship team and I’d spearheaded creative worship there. As I’ve moved along from Quiverful to Main Street I still loved worship, still led worship from the new church. As I left our new church this summer to visit many of the churches in our community worship was one of the big things in my mind. I wanted to land somewhere with not just passion and excitement but also with alive worship that would be open to allowing me to join. Worshipping is like breathing to me.
Every place I went was welcoming, but I wasn’t really seeing what I was searching for. I visited old friends, made new friends and tested the waters. Heard interesting sermons but sensed none of these places was really right for me. Once Possum Creekers heard I was church-hopping one of them called me and begged me to return (and drink the Koolaid again) She also explained that they were believing it was Last Days and everyone had bought hand guns to practice killing off attacking heathen hordes. Seriously, now they are arming up for the end of the world. Which really made me think that the mainstream church wasn’t so bad after all.
I declined the Koolaid drinking and pink pistol toting. What type of church tells its members that the non-believers are going to take them down and to arm to the teeth? Don’t tell me. A crazy non-Jesus centric church cult. Make me so glad I’ve left nearly six years ago. It was a good wake up call and measurement as to how far I’d come along in the ensuing years.
During the summer of my magical mystical spiritual tour of churches I started to feel out of step with the world. There wasn’t a place out there that had every thing I was looking for. Finding passion and excitement was almost always coupled with a cult-like atmosphere and strange doings. Safe places seemed pretty dead spiritually.
So I was excited to find a new church near my home that seemed to be what I was looking for. Seemed to have it all. I attended once, twice and finally a third time. During that third time I realized that this wasn’t for me either. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, everyone was friendly, the worship was awesome, the pastor was welcoming, sermons good, etc, etc. There was just something indefinable that set off the alarms in my head, the Lost-In-Space robot started shouting “Warning, Warning Will Robinson!” while waving his silver dryer vent like arms.
Two days later I found out exactly why that darn robot was shouting in my head. I got a phone call from the pastor of this church I’ll just name Hilltop Church. Pastor Hilltop called to tell me I was always welcome to visit or join. He’d been after me to join after the first time I showed up, knew I was a worship leader from another church, offered me free reign to lead their team.
But that Tuesday Pastor Hilltop was calling to tell me that when I returned I couldn’t ‘dance’. My ‘dancing’ was just not right. I asked Pastor Hilltop to explain what he meant by ‘dancing’ because I had no memory of shaking my booty, doing the electric slide or the Charleston in his church. He was talking about my usual hand raising and swaying in time with the music. Whoo-hoo! Some dancing. I had no idea that was dancing.
Before I knew it I’d started laughing, loudly and uproariously as he piously quoted scriptures about dignity and control. The more he pontificated the more I laughed like I was watching “The Three Stooges” instead of talking to a member of the clergy. I didn’t get angry, I just was so amused by his brand of crazy. At the end of the call he huffily proclaimed that I was welcome to visit any time as long as I didn’t dance but he didn’t think my joining was such a great idea after all. I hooted out more laughter.
It didn’t end there. He friended me on Facebook and started to spam my Facebook wall with more of the same spew of sanctimonious crapola, trying to beat on me with scripture. He stopped once I told him that he didn’t have a church, merely a cult of personality. If I had to guess I’d venture to say I’m on the scrap heap of the heathenish in his mind now.
An incident like this back in the days of Possum Creek would have left me shredded emotionally, wondering what was wrong with me, if God hated me, if I was going to hell, you name it. So it did do some good. It was a good experience for measuring how far I’ve come in my journey away from abusive theology and pastor control freaks. And I’m back at my safe dull church where the pastor has to answer to regional, state and national leadership if he were to ban dancing and order pistols. Yeah, and I’m still laughing over this nonsense.
I look back and think sometimes it’s a wonder I still believe anything at all after the years of abuse.
*name of the church changed to protect the Pink Pistol Packing Mamas and others.