Let’s get something straight here.
Your church does not make you happy. Your church makes you unhappy. It makes you unhappy so often that you’re used to it. Like a bad haircut, after a while you forget that it’s not normal. But this starts from age zero. It’s a precept of your church that you do something wrong every day–you break the law–and if you somehow manage to go a whole day without doing something wrong, there are an infinite number of things you could, and therefore should, be doing right–“sins of omission”–and you aren’t doing them. You can never win. You are a SLAVE to The Law. Your church is built around the idea that YOU ARE A LOSER. Your church is making you a loser all the time. You are so used to your church making you feel bad that you think feeling bad is your normal state. You feel bad by default and you have become OK with that.
And then, once in a while, your church has a moment where it stops making you feel bad–through the invocation of grace, or the Atonement, or of repentance–and it lets up, and all the crap about you being wrong, doing the wrong things, or failing to do the right things subsides for a minute, and it leaves you alone. And not feeling bad for that moment is so disorienting, since you’re so used to feeling bad, that you think you actually feel good. You don’t really feel good, you just don’t feel bad. And it’s been so long since you didn’t feel bad that you think not feeling bad is the same as feeling good.
Your church does not care about you. It REALLY DOESN’T. It never did before, and it’s never going to. PEOPLE in your church MIGHT care about you, but I doubt it. More likely, they’re just doing what they think they’re supposed to do in order to avoid feeling worse than they already feel. They’re just as scared of not being good enough as you–maybe even more. Your church only cares that you continue to support it, and it does not, in reality, support you at all. It never has. It never will. It’s a one-way relationship. It is not in the design of churches to support the people in them. The rare moments in which a church supports an individual exist solely to justify and to excuse the inherent nature of the church, which it displays plainly the rest of the time.
Judaism managed to exist without the concept of grace for thousands of years.
I postulate that the appearance of Jesus Christ was a social and mathematical inevitability given the way things were going: Grace and mercy became necessary as justifications for the continued oppression of the people by The Law. Since we, as a species, started to believe that we are all sovereign, Christian churches have become more “liberal”. People won’t put up with a church that disrespects their sovereignty. It’s taking more and more grace, mercy, and love and the like, for a church to successfully justify its mistreatment of its people. For example, we see a racist church, and we decide we’re not okay with that. Alright then, *POOF* a new church is formed which isn’t racist–this is only done to shut the people up, to get them back into the pews and paying their tithing so the church can get back to the business of making you feel bad.
I propose that rather than having another More, Better or Different church, that it’s time to undo the entire underlying context of church–to undo what it means for a church to be a church–and create something that actually serves us. I think that’s worth doing. Do you?