Friday, July 6, 2012


Today in my teenage angst, I reflect on my church experience. You know how in sitcoms they always have that 'place'? Like Central Perk, or Riffs, or The Bronze, or McLaren's. It's comfortable, it's familiar, you rarely have to pay for the things you consume and according to Cheers, everybody knows your name. I set forth this metaphor not because this has been my overall church experience, but because it's become my church experience.

A lot of my earliest church attendance was mandatory because my father worked there. I was into it because there were a lot of people there to entertain me and to be entertained by. As I got older, church became a part of my routine. It kind of prevented me from doing things that I might think of fondly later but regret at the time. I learned valuable things and became a valuable person. I could do the music ministry or teach in the kid's service. I knew what went on.

After I graduated High School, I moved a couple hours from home and started working at a church over the summer in between years of college. It was a moderately sized church not unlike the one I had grown up in. I thought I could really make it there. I got involved, grew very close to a lot of the kids, but never settled in. It was kind of like going to the Bronze, seeing the bands, having regular conversations with the Willow and Xander, but them never really remembering who you are. It's a nice place to go, but there's certainly nothing keeping you there. Except the kids. Not the kids at The Bronze, the kids at the moderate sized church, not unlike the one I had grown up in. After I graduated from college I moved across the country. The move itself didn't last long and I came back home. When I went back to the church, it was so uncomfortable, I couldn't stand it. I knew, like, one twelfth of the people and I think less than that knew me. It wasn't Cheers anymore, and looking back, I'm not sure it ever was.

I started going to this Anglican church across town. It's brick and ancient and mostly old people go there. That's good for me, because I don't interact well with my peers. Not to say I don't have friends, but I'm not particularly fond of those my age who I don't consider my friends. So I stayed. Soon, I discovered, while I still didn't really know anyone that well, everyone seemed to know me. They greeted me happily on Sunday mornings, they were excited when I started to serve. I volunteered for a stained glass tour we were giving and everyone became my best friend. Their average age was 68, but I was very popular. I'm not ashamed to say, I still am.

I love going to church. Some Saturday nights when I'm tired, I think I'll not go to church the next morning. I'd like to 'take the day', as my parents call it when they stay home. But I inevitably wake up the next morning and change my mind. Not only do I want to go, I'm excited about it. I need it. I need them. I feel comfortable there. Their presence feeds my existence like nothing else could.

I'm telling this story because I think that people are really important. I don't think that we were created to be alone. And I think that a lot of North America's overall state of depression has to do with our inability to let other people influence our well being to the point of discomfort. We need this. I'm not saying it has to come from a church setting. I'm not even saying that it should. I am saying that it needs to come from somewhere. And I urge you to find it. For the sake of your mind, your body and your soul, find it.   


Cole McFarlane said...

These are good words.. and they certainly ring true. I don't know the numbers but some absurd percentage of 25-30 year olds meet romantic partners on E-harmony.. (yes a different thing all together) but I think it highlights the lack of ongoing community and connection that is increasing in 20somethings as they move beyond school.

But then questions arise for me.. How do you get beyond community tokenism.. and into a deep sense of belonging?

M├Ągi said...

Oh oh oh... yes.