WHY I GO TO CHURCH
Anonymous, contributed to the Nebraska regional newsletter through the Broken Halos, a women’s support group at First Christian, Weeping Water, NE (Nov. 2014)
In recent years, many young adults in my generation have developed a distaste for the church. Some of the reasons are valid, some not. Other friends feel the church has become outdated, irrelevant. Others claim the church is driven too much by current fads and superficial messages. They throw around words like “hypocritical,” “useless,” “judgmental,” and “greedy.”
The attitude of my fellow young adults is in evident in a video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The mantra for so many is, we don’t need church, we just need God. Or, we don’t need God, we just need spirituality. Although many churches have the traits listed above, I would like to tell my fellow young adults that this is not the church I know and not the church I will help build.
The church I know understands the brokenness with which young people are so intimately familiar. Statistics for college graduates under 35 show an unemployment rate of 6% but a “mal-employment” rate—those who hold jobs for which they are overeducated—of nearly 40%. We earn degrees and take on a terrifying student loan debt, and then find our options are jobs that don’t require a degree and don’t pay a living wage. I took out loans of more than $100,000 the past two years and I am still doing my final course and thesis. I don’t live from paycheck to paycheck. I live paycheck to four days before paycheck. I cannot save. And my career in any field appears uncertain at best.
For many others in my generation, college itself is a pipe dream. Many spend their young adult years on the streets, in prison, or on a battlefield. The percentage of men age 25-34 living with their parents rose to 34% in 2012. For young women it rose 15%. We are the most educated generation in US history, but many of us find ourselves living at home, sitting on the poverty line, and not knowing what went wrong.
I live in a broken world; and I am broken within it. I crack, spit, bleed, break when I have to take out another school loan, use my last $5 to put gas in my car, buy ramen noodles instead of fresh meat, or get still another job rejection. We are broken people in a broken world. And this is why I go to church.
My church is full of broken people. We learn to be broken together, so vulnerable in our human condition but gathered despite this to work for the kingdom of God on earth. We learn to accept those who enter our doors as God accepts us: broken, imperfect, lovable beyond measure. I know that when I cannot fill my fridge at the end of the month, a freezer of food opens to me without judgment. I know that when a church member goes through the pain of divorce, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will stand amid their shattered lives, saying, “We are here. God is here. Broken, and with God’s help, we will help put you back together. We will not abandon you in this broken world. Come, for all are welcome.”
This is the church I know. This is the church we need. Seek it out. The broken people of God’s church wait with open arms. And if you cannot find this church, build it.