My confession is that I am a consumer Christian. That term thrown around in church world for a person who comes and sits in a seat for worship and does nothing volunteer-wise. You know, the people that the good and faithful church volunteers get frustrated with.
Yep, that’s me. That’s never been me, but now is a weird time.
I’ve gone to church for probably eleven or twelve years. I started going because my church needed an accompanist and I stayed for seven years, rarely missing a Sunday playing. I think I attended two or three times in those seven years without accompanying services.
Then I fell in love with a musician passing through town (true story) and after eight months of long-distancing I moved to Lynchburg, Virginia to be with him. He was still touring on the weekends but recommended a church to me, Brentwood Church. I loved it there, and attended services regularly. A few months after that, I got married, the hubby was playing in the band, and I started volunteering with the preschool class during the second service.
In August 2006 we moved to Charlotte to help plant a church. The five months that we were here before the church started were spent visiting lots of area churches and getting ideas for our own program. I spoke with lots of children’s directors and observed security setups and got curriculum ideas. When the church finally started, I taught the K-5 class every Sunday. Eventually some parents took over for me one week a month but other than that I was back there nearly constantly until a children’s director was hired.
Two months ago we left, and I am now a consumer Christian.
My husband has been playing at a couple of different churches on Sunday mornings, and if he’s nearby I’ll just go wherever he’s playing. This morning, however, he was at a church an hour away. He had to be there way too early for me to ride with him and it’s too far away to drive up there separately, so I went to our friend’s church Next Level Church. I got there just as worship was starting, listened to the (super fun, by the way) country music they were playing to go with their “Gone Country” series, and listened to Todd preach a great sermon. After the service I said hey to Todd, got in my car, and left.
It was glorious.
A small part of me felt guilty. I saw people passing out series cards and people running media and lights and people opening the doors and greeting people. I walked past them and sat down in a seat. I knew people were teaching kids’ classes but I didn’t even see them. I’m sure someone walked through the auditorium to collect trash but I didn’t have to worry about it.
I attended church. And that’s it. And even though I felt a teensy bit guilty, I realize that this is a healing time for us. The husband is playing keyboards every Sunday and that’s healing for him. Music is therapeutic and he doesn’t have the added stress of leading worship. For now, my healing is to just be there. I’m allowed to go to church and worship and absorb and not do anything. In fact, I’m pretty sure that all of my doing of the past eleven years has gotten in the way of my worshiping and absorbing on Sunday mornings.
That’s not to say that I’ll never volunteer at a church again. Right now it’s hard to commit anywhere with us attending a couple of different “home” churches, but I know in the future I’ll be involved again. For now, though, I will sing and choke back tears during worship (which happens every.single.week, regardless of the setlist) and listen to sermons from pastors I trust and respect and be a little sad every now and then, all things that would not be happening if I was too busy doing and not spending time being present. I will worship God and process my feelings and mourn the loss of seeing our church family on a Sunday morning, sometimes all at the same time. And I will be thankful that I’m allowed to be still without feeling guilty.
I am a consumer Christian, and I think that’s okay as long as it’s a temporary season. I think it’s just what I need right now.