This past week I started thinking to myself, as I scrolled through my Facebook timeline: how many more blogs written by Christian women for Christian women do we really need? It seems like every time I turn around another one has popped up and they are all writing about “God’s calling”, how to be a Godly wife and mother or how to be a woman after God’s own heart. And they all include a way for you to download an ebook to tell Christian women how to be better Christian women.
I know. It sounds like I’m against Christian women writing about,and for, Christian women, but I’m not. I read many of these blogs, books and Instagram mini-blogs and they are insanely encouraging and welcome. I seek them out, in fact, to feel encouraged. And sometimes I am even one of those Christian women writing for Christian women! Gasp!
Still, one has to wonder – when do we stop only encouraging each other and start trying to encourage the people who either aren’t Christians or who are but aren’t the “model Christians” by our own definitions? I think many Christians are so busy making sure they have it all together, never doubt, never question and always trust God, they forget, or don’t want, to show their weak and questioning moments. And they certainly don’t want it to appear they are criticizing the church in any way, even if they might only be trying to express a concern of an area they would like to work on so they can improve with the church.
I have received my fair share of scoldings from members or leaders of “the church” for expressing my feelings about church behavior or my doubts about God at one point or another in my life. Often, though, by expressing those feelings out loud I found others who agreed with me and felt the same and only when I mentioned it did they feel comfortable to say so. It opened a door not to complain but to exchange ideas and ponder solutions to our feelings.
One time I vented on Facebook, something I do not recommend, about cliques within in the church and how it makes other women feel left out to the point they finally stop attending church. I wrote this while never naming an actual church, or the church I attended yet I still received a private message, from the associate pastor, warning me to stop trashing their church online and a Bible verse about bringing concerns about other Christians to that Christian in private. Apparently, I had hit a nerve but what was odd was how this pastor didn’t come to me in person, as the verse had suggested, but hid behind social media to do his scolding. In fact, when I did see him in person, he never addressed me about it and shortly after our family left the church for that and a couple of other reasons.
Social media and smartphones as a growing form of communication is a hindrance to the church in my mind and the topic is something I plan to delve into deeper in future blog posts. Before you think I’m pointing fingers at people and not realizing they are pointing back at me, trust me, I know that I have also been guilty of hiding behind social media to deal with difficult situations.
The “leadership of the church” may not have appreciated what I wrote that day, and I shouldn’t have taken to social media about my hurt and concern, but I also received a private message from a friend who thanked me for the post and confessed that one reason she had stopped attending church regularly was because of the clique mentality at so many churches. Another friend also private messaged me later, once I had removed the post so as not to receive any more “scoldings”, and said she had also felt “outside the circle” during the times she’d tried to get involved in churches in her area.
So on that day I may not have been liked by Christians, who thought I should have protected the church and not air its dirty laundry, but I was understood by those hurt by the church as a whole and who, though they were hesitant to attend a church again, felt comfortable to share with me they wanted a relationship with God, knew humans were imperfect and not always a reflection of his true nature, but were not sure how to get past their disappointment in people.
We were able to have an open and honest conversation about church and Christians. I didn’t discourage either of my friends from attending church but simply said “I get it. We are on the same page. Me too.” It was nice for us all not to feel alone and maybe in one way we formed our own clique of sorts, but one outside the church instead of in.
I think that’s what the church is lacking – a way to reach out to those who don’t attend church and say “me too. I get it.” Instead many in the church write or speak only to their “own kind” and scold when some speak about God in a way they consider wrong, usually out of hurt or frustration as they work out their feelings. I know correction and encouragement of “our own” is needed but there is a time and place for both and sometimes obliterating the box we’ve put God in is needed.
I hope Christian women, and men for that matter, continue to write encouraging pieces for other Christians, but maybe we should question if we really need to only encourage our own using language only we Christians get and making an entire generation feel like they are on the outside looking in.
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