This is 2012. I haven’t regularly attended a church since 2004. Eight years. Eight years of being home on Sundays, watching NFL pregame shows and catching up on laundry neglected throughout the week. That’s been my life these eight years but it wasn’t always that way. I grew up going to church EVERY Sunday, Wednesday etc. All that’s changed now and people routinely ask about it. I’ll never forget the reaction my aunt had when she found out. She absolutely couldn’t piece together how a man who went to seminary doesn’t go to church. Long story short, even when I found myself embracing Jesus, I couldn’t embrace his house.
When I was younger the reasons were simple. Church just wasn’t very interesting. It was too long and often redundant. Why were we here? To sing songs? To listen to an uplifting speech? I can’t say that I ever really figured that out or saw any definite goals being achieved; unless the goal was for a few (predictable) few to “get happy.” As I’ve gotten older, however, the reasons have become much more thought out. Some are, of course, theological and others purely sociological. At the end of the day, they all boil down to one simple question: what’s the point?
People often say I should go to fellowship. I ask, when is the fellowship part? As I’m commuting alone in my car or sitting in my seat silently, watching the show? Others say to learn. Having paid (and still paying) for an advanced theological degree, I certainly don’t feel very informed after most sermons. No, there must be more, right? My thinking is that with the depth of human suffering and oppression that exists, the church should somehow be involved in mitigating or eradicating it. Perhaps I’ve always thought the church should be responding to the felt needs of people.
In some of our cities, black male unemployment can creep to over 50%. Only 12% of eighth grade black boys are proficient in math, compared to 44% of whites. 60% of black females are sexually abused before the age of 18. Should people show up to the church on a given Sunday, these are the questions they are seeking immediate answers to. Yet, they’ll very likely hear a sermon on being a nice person, being happy and shaking your haters off. So then, why go? If every core issue I’m concerned about you systematically ignore, you’re somewhat of an irrelevant institution to me.
So I sit home. I don’t feel that I’m missing much and on the rare occasions when I go, that theory is further substantiated. When faced with the proposition of getting in my car, spending gas money and several hours to sit, watch a show and hear absolutely nothing relevant to where I and my community truly are, I simply ask what the point is.