A Church of One

I’ve made a couple of attempts to plug in into the “Christian” community here in Colorado Springs, but it’s hard to really express why I’m having difficulty finding a good church in a way that most people could understand.

Churchians are so reared in the societal constructs of what constitutes a typical modern church today (complete with its cliques, social elements, and excessive attempts to pander to the youth) that I don’t think most are capable of recognizing the errors within, much like a fish cannot have water explained to it, since to that fish, it is everywhere.

So when I attend church, I attend as an outsider looking in. There’s always something about the atmosphere, or the preaching, or the people themselves that puts me ill at ease, to the extent that I can never comfortably stick around. People might argue that if I’m looking for the perfect church, I’m never going to find it, but I don’t agree at all that this is what I’m doing, and it just goes to show how the church bubble they continue to inhabit has blinded them from truly being able to understand where I’m coming from.

Part of it is because I’m an introvert and hearing impaired, and hence my spiritual walk is borne out of quiet reflection on spiritual things, while craving the intimacy of small, close knit groups, rather than being part of a larger, noisy congregation, especially one prone to generating cliques that further segregates the body of Christ. Everything is oriented towards the extroverted, and it takes a meticulous harnessing of social skills as an introvert to successfully plug into such a community.

Another reason is that I’ve lived an abnormal life that has made it difficult, if not impossible to relate to people. Very few can relate to one such as myself, who holds to a subset of Christian beliefs that is only held by an extreme minority, who has had to struggle with a disability that further hinders my ability to connect with others socially, and where I remain single while the vast majority of people my age are married with children. Unless Jesus is the true primary focus of a church, the yarn that binds people from all different walks of life together, there is virtually nothing left I’d have in common with Churchians that might help me to forge new relationships and achieve meaningful fellowship.

Most churches today are no longer true places of worship but an unapologetically social construct,Β a sanitized version of the high school caste system. I think most people who grew up with church having been regular a part of their lives are fair-weather Christians of a sort. They have little sense of what it’s like to be alienated from others, cut off from family or friends, or even abandoned by entire churches, where such alienation is compounded further by physical disabilities. I see a lot of them here, those who live the life of an affluent Christian, whose idea of suffering is when a barista gets their Starbucks order wrong. Their Christian beliefs are watered down and superficial at best, putting on appearances just enough so they remain indistinguishable from the rest of the church community and collective. As with the rest of the world, they will accept you, so long as you behave and act exactly as they do, and don’t make any waves.

I could do this myself, and in other areas of my life I do, suppressing so many aspects of my personality and beliefs in order to have better success connecting with others, even if they can never know who I really am, because if they did, I’d never be accepted. But with church it seems to be a bridge too far for me.

Others will say I chose this life, and thus any failure to fellowship and connect with others is wholly self-inflicted, an attitude that further alienates me even more because they simply cannot see what I do, having never walked a day in my shoes.

The only solution I see here has to be another miracle, just as the miracle that led me to Colorado eventually manifested, I have to trust and believe for yet another miracle that helps me find a way to serve and reconnect to the true body of Christ. And maybe in that, to finally find the love that has eluded me my whole life as well.

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10 Responses to A Church of One

  1. Stephanie August 9, 2015 at 2:21 PM #

    Hi,

    Sadly, I can relate a lot to this blog. I am not blaming the churches though, but I am from Ca and I moved to Indiana in 2013. There are hardly any singles here at all. i have been to numerous churches and I feel there is no “group” I really click with at all. When I find a church I like, seems like most people already have their “group” of friends and they are very reluctant to let any “newbies” in their circle.

    The west coast was CRAWLING with singles. There were singles activities galore and tons of opportunties to serve.

    Truthfully, it has been a bit lonely for me, being in my forties. I may move back to California. I love the cheap housing here, but the chance to really get connected is challenging

    • Frank Swift August 9, 2015 at 7:17 PM #

      It might be worth the premium to move back to a setting you feel more comfortable in. Saving a few dollars may not be worth depriving yourself of the opportunity to meet other singles who are in a similar boat. Colorado wasn’t the cheapest place for me to go, but considering all the tradeoffs, it is definitely one of the best.

  2. Ray Feindt August 24, 2015 at 10:31 AM #

    Frank,

    A Long Island friend posted your blog about Long Island on his facebook page and I absolutely thought it was right on having grown up there. I also moved to Colorado some 30+ years ago now. I clicked to your website and read your blog about the Church if One which I also related to having had a conversion experience to faith after moving to Colorado after 6 months here. Fast forward 30 years and 20 of which were in “ministry” 10 full time vocationally I too am on a journey for authentic spiritual connection and expression.

    I have found the the 2 books below that have helped me in my understanding of why I feel me way I do about “church” along in the process. Maybe you’ve read them too or if not you might appreciate them as well. The first is the The Tangible Kingdom and the 2nd is The Forgotten ways. Maybe one day you’d like to grab a cup of coffee.

    Keep writing from your vantage point because there are many listeners that hear your unique and honest message.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470188979/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=32535191191&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11286104683547177347&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=t&ref=pd_sl_96ha6bfzi0_b

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Forgotten-Ways-Reactivating-Missional/dp/1587431645

    • Frank Swift August 25, 2015 at 12:55 AM #

      Thanks for the encouragement, Ray! I have bookmarked the books you suggested and will check them out once I have more time. I have been wondering how I could possibly minister to the body of Christ since I am always perpetually at odds with other Christians for one reason or another, so it’s encouraging to know my blog in some small way helps reach those who have to endure similar frustrations.

  3. Agatha November 30, 2015 at 9:09 PM #

    My kind of place is Northern Arizona. I moved to LI two years ago, and I feel like a pariah in a number of ways (I’m an introvert also that cringes whenever I see the Sheeple on Sundays). I agree with Most of your insights in your LI post, and I also found it hilarious!

    • Frank Swift December 1, 2015 at 11:27 AM #

      Hi Agatha,

      I’ve been to northern Arizona, I was surprised by how much forest there was and that it can even snow down there too. The things you learn on your travels. ?

      Glad you found some camaraderie in my post, and hope you find your way of escape off Wrong Island too!

  4. An December 4, 2015 at 2:19 AM #

    hey Frank,

    We never quite fit the church mould either. Small groups were better, but people move and small groups change and break up.

    I still feel a bit sad about not being part of a church group, but the sense of relief at avoiding the politics usually assauges that pretty soon.

    Glad to hear you got to leave long Island sound. Place sounds toxic, like where I grew up.

    • Frank Swift December 4, 2015 at 4:33 PM #

      Thanks An, life has truly been so much better living in a new environment away from the toxicity of Long Island. :-)

  5. Sydney Combs June 20, 2016 at 12:02 AM #

    Hey Frank!

    I just came across your blog and want you to know you are not alone. In the secular world I am classified as an INTJ so it is very difficult for me to be in social settings that I don’t feel like are beneficial. This roles over into my spiritual life because it is extremely difficult for me to be active in the four walls because I understand that as believers we are his Church. I discovered David Wilkerson a few months ago and fell in love with his preaching and I truly do believe that we are going to have a revival before the End Times and God is separating his true believers from the false ones. I am currently in an isolation season and just wanted to let you know that I am here for you brother all the way from Atlanta, GA.

    • Frank Swift June 20, 2016 at 2:08 PM #

      Thanks for your kind words Sydney! If you’re ever in Colorado let me know and we can get together for some good old fashioned fellowship. πŸ™Œ πŸ˜ƒ

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