If the title of this post made you worry that I’m turning my back on my Christian Faith, then you’re part of the reason I’m doing this little note. Pardon the bullet points, they make it easier for both of us.
1. I’m sick of the current church system. Been sick of it for a long time, but I found two local assemblies that helped make it easier to bear, at least for a while. Now I no longer have them.
2. When I was in University I was fortunate to be part of the Christian Union, a non-denominational fellowship. For 5 blissful years, I experienced JESUS without the taint of red tape, politics, absurd use of funds, favouritism and all such annoying trappings of “church”. For those years, I lived free of billboards with smiling faces of Mamas and Papas, and programmes that were more about publicity stunts than reaching souls for Christ. Everybody was the same in fellowship. Even the leaders we elected and whose offices we respected, were still brothers and sisters just like us. I gave like never before, because every dime went into ministry work that my heart could feel; activity groups like HOP (Hospitals, Orphanage Homes and Prisons), SSV (Secondary School Visitation), CEM (Children Evangelism Ministry), and the RCA from where rural crusaders went on mission trips to rural areas, to mention a few. Welfare was taken seriously, and anybody could walk up to any member of the Executive Committee, or the Welfare Secretaries (WS Brothers or WS Sisters) if they had a need. Regardless of whether we were brought up Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists or “Pentecostals”, when we gathered, we were Christians. That was all.
3. I was sick with fear to have to go back into the Nigerian Church system again. When I did go back I was miserable, but I had to brave it because I believed I had no choice. I needed the assembling of the brethren on a regular basis. The Bible admonishes us not to forsake it and I could not even do it- for my own well being. Yet, I realised the best fellowship of my life was still finding myself and other believing friends in the home of another believer, and somewhere in the socializing having someone announce, “let’s have church.”
4. Things are worse now. When I was a member of Ikoyi Baptist Church a lot of things brought me relief. I cannot express how glad I was to be rid of the most annoying aspects of Pentecostalism. I won’t list them, but let’s just say this was the closest I came to recovering what I had in University. I embraced it fully. I had huge doses of the things that are important to me in a local assembly; fellowship and service. And I had a pastor whose name you may not know, who doesn’t drive a flashy car, who isn’t a regular in the papers, but who loves God and His people with all his heart. A pastor who, despite pastoring some of the wealthiest believers in Lagos, still answers me when I call him, and comes to minister to me and my family wherever we are. And this, after I have married and joined another church.
5. This other church hubby and I joined after marriage, is okay I guess. Uncomfortable as I may be with the way it’s run like somebody’s personal organization (albeit a wonderful man), and the concerts that gulp huge sums of money, I still managed to go there with hubby, sit and listen to the sermon, praise and worship, and go home. When I had my baby and couldn’t go to church for a while, I realised I felt no different sitting at home and watching sermon DVDs. I get the Word at home, praise, worship and pray. I still need fellowship, but I do not get it in the church; I’m in fact starved for it. So what’s the point of bundling myself every Sunday to go and sit there? It does nothing but tie me to the organisation, forcing me to answer when asked what church I belong to, “XYZ Church.” That is a lie. I do not belong there. It’s best to face the truth. My heart is not in it.
6. I still have the challenge of fellowship. I am working on fixing that. Where two or three are gathered in the Name of Jesus, there He is in the midst of them. There are people in countries hostile to Christianity, who do not gather in any elegant buildings. They meet in homes and have church just like the early church did. So maybe you’ll soon be sending greetings to the church that meets in Joy’s house, or the home of some friend or the other. It will never be registered, but it will definitely provide the fuel we need to go out and make a difference in society.
7. I will make sure my son doesn’t miss out on the great benefits of Children Sunday School and the beautiful programmes tailored for young minds. If I find those trained to teach him better than I can, I will hand him over with joy. And I will still attend church whenever my husband wants to go; he will have my company. He doesn’t mind that I don’t belong there. And no, Jesus doesn’t mind either.