I’ve read a lot of blog posts about reasons millennials don’t attend church regularly anymore. Some I agree with, others not so much. I’ve struggled with whether or not I should write about this for a while now. Mainly because in my community; you don’t question God, you don’t speak out against the Pastor, and talking bad about the church is frowned upon. Not that I would do any of that, but you know how that goes. People take offense , words get misconstrued, and the next thing you know I’m going to Hell for being a heathen. I do think that after seven years of being on a sabbatical, I’m finally ready to tell MY experience with church.
My family is from a very small town in Alabama. From birth until I was about 8, we attended our family church faithfully. I say family church because we were related to 90% of the members. That was where I was introduced to my first dose of ministerial dysfunction. They treated that church like a clubhouse. Ran by the members, everything had to be the way THEY wanted it. No pastor was irreplaceable. I think they voted out at least four pastors the short time I was there. It was complete CHAOS. By the time I was seven, I knew the Bible like the back of my hand. With that being said, I knew what was going on around me wasn’t what I was being taught. My mother knew it too, so we left and found another church home.
When we switched churches, I was extremely happy. Our new church was close to home, and I met my childhood best friend on my first visit. I remember telling my mom that THIS was the church we were supposed to be at and I was so happy when she agreed. I finally enjoyed going to church again. Everyone was friendly and treated us like family. I didn’t have to worry about THIS pastor being voted out because he wasn’t going for it. Before long, I was in every youth ministry the church had. Me and my best friend were literally at church 3-5 days a week, EVERY week. For years, everything was great. I was everyone’s adopted little sister, my pastor was like a father to me, and my church family felt like real family until . . . I got pregnant .
Shortly after my 19th birthday, I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I got married a few months after that. I knew there would be whispers at church, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. I was already ashamed and embarrassed, but to hear the things that my “friends” and church family had to say about me really hurt. I was called stupid, fast/loose, and some people even questioned my mother’s parenting. The funny thing about that was, all of this was coming from people who I grew up with. People whose secrets I kept for years. People who helped my mother raise me. People whose children were having sex long before I was. Suddenly, everyone was holier than thou and I was the church Jezebel. The hypocrisy of it all . . .
The church is supposed to be a safe haven. It’s supposed to be a place to worship and learn all about God’s love for all of us. Unfortunately, my experience with church hasn’t been the best. Being on the receiving end of nasty stares and remarks sucked! It took years to get over, but I realized that holding a grudge makes me just as bad as the people who judged me. The reality of the situation is, people are just people inside and outside of the church. We ALL sin and fall short of God’s glory. It’s funny because when I first started writing this, my attitude was completely different. I was angry and ready to tell the world why. Now, I feel better. I probably won’t return to that particular church full-time, but I still believe in God. I also believe that he’ll guide me in the right direction at the right time. Until then, I’m okay with watching church services online. Feel free to share your own experiences with church down below. No judgments here!
Don’t forget your copy of Growing Girls With Curls here.