Most of the times I really love going to church. The main goal to attend a church in the first place for most church-goers, is because they simply want to do as is instructed in HEBREWS 10:25. They come to the same church year after year, because their parents went to this church and want their own children to go this same church. They come together every Sunday and sometimes even during other Church events, to learn more about God’s word, sing songs together and meet with other church-goers whom they’ve grown fond of. They go to church because they have fun there and consider it a very fulfilling activity.
And church can indeed be a fulfilling activity. But it also means that you will have to deal with people. For “outsiders” and newcomers, entering a church can sometimes be the opposite of what a regular active church member might experience.
Even though Jesus’ message is to “Love The Lord God with everything we are and love each other like we love ourselves”, when encountering some church people, a lot of newcomers or outsiders might wonder “Where is the love?” Let’s face it; A lot of church people can be cold, unfriendly, snobby, greedy, selfish, mean and judgmental hypocrites. Especially the active church members; Smiling their fake smile at you while they friendly rub it under your nose how “holy” they are and how much of a “church-noob” you are.
There are times when “I love God but can’t stand His ground control”. I preferred sitting in the back so that I was able to rush out of church as soon as the service ended, to avoid interaction with the church sheep. It was either that, or rubbing it under “holier-than-thou”‘s nose that I too know the Bible and warn them before God not to argue about words. Such arguments don’t help anyone, and they ruin those who listen to them. [1 tim 2:14]. And as much as it is fun to put stuck-up people in their place, what do we really gain from doing this? Aside from a stupid selfish ego-boost? Deep down it does not give us the gratification we long for.
Ever since I became an active member of a small Indonesian church in Amsterdam a few years ago, I’ve experienced the other side of church as well. I truly believe God is using His ground control to teach us all a lesson; No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves, we are all flawed human beings who need to learn to judge less and love more. That includes not judging “holier-than-thou” snobs and other church-going hypocrites. There’s a big chance we all fit in that category, one way or the other.
However… It does feel nice to write down some of the random anecdotes of actual events I’ve heard or encountered in several churches with other church-goers, and the frustration that came with it.
Here’s 3 of them. I might write more in a future post:
#1 YELLING PASTOR
A few weeks ago, the wife of a pastor informed me that her husband would like to sing a song after he had rounded up the sermon. Since the church I serve is a bilingual church, I asked the lady if he would have a preference in what language the song should be displayed on the big screen, operated by yours truly while also singing in the choir. She said it did not matter, but that she herself only knew the Dutch version of this song.
The sermon came to an end and the Pastor looked over at me, nodding as a sign to want to do his desired song. He became furious at me for not putting the English version on screen and yelled at me in front of 200 people.
Other than this, it was a lovely Sunday Service.
#2 FAKE CHRISTIAN BLIND DATE
Being single in a church has always been quite annoying. A lot of people want to “help you” find happiness. Some don’t realize that there’s a reason why people remain single.
A friend of mine was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her blind date, during a random Sunday service at a popular church in a small town. She asked me to come with, just in case.
The blind date was arranged by this well respected elderly lady we knew from our own church. The lady knew a single guy that would fit great with my friend. She insisted that he’s appealing to the eye and a real man of God.
My friend and I sat down in the back of this popular church. He finally arrived. The match maker’s description of his appearance hardly did him right. The man looked like an actor or a model, the stunning kind.. He charmingly introduced himself. Trying hard not to blush, my friend invited him to sit next to her during the service.
She observed his behavior during praise and worship. He wasn’t clapping and singing along to any of the songs. He was quiet throughout the rest of the sermon too. We both figured it might be because he’s just not that type of guy.
Afterwards they went for coffee at a small coffee house nearby and while I took a walk through the lovely small town. While enjoying themselves a cup of coffee, she asked him why he liked going to this specific church. He just nodded and smiled. When she asked what he enjoyed most of the service, he shrugged and said he didn’t really cared about the sermon. This surprised my friend. He then told her that he the church was conveniently nearby his church and that he just wanted to have a good time. If she was up for it, he’d take her to his house.
My friend refused and sent me a text that she wanted to leave. She then thanked him for the coffee and left him at the coffee house.
So much for a date with a “real man of God”.
#3 DRESSED LIKE A QUEEN AND GREEDY FOR RICE
The church band boys were all tired from their stressful week. Some were still in school and had a job on the side. If it were up to them, they would’ve stayed home. But the pastor insisted they’d play during this special traditional Indonesian church event. A lot of important people would attend the church event and rather had these boys play than anyone else. The boys still weren’t up to it, until they were assured that there would be loads and loads of food.
The special Indonesian Church event was an impressive gathering indeed. Complete with well known pastors from abroad, wealthy businessmen accompanied by women dressed in beautiful traditional Indonesian clothing. They were all trying their very best to impress one another with their “interesting life stories” and the women made selfie after selfie as if life depended on it.
The sermon did not take long and when it ended, the Indonesian buffet opened. But there was still need for music ,because those beautifully dressed ladies all wanted to perform a song for the eating audience. This meant that the church band boys would have to keep on playing their instruments, watch others swallowing down food as if life depended on it, while ignoring their own hunger.
By the time that the guys were allowed to have a short break, they arrived at an open buffet. They were just in time to witness a few of the beautifully dressed ladies fetching themselves the last bits of rice. The boys of the band ended up having to go to McDonalds.
Well. That’ll be all. Despite of these rants, I’d like to once again point out that we are all just human beings. Even people in church. We are all just people trying to make the best out of our shitty lives. And sometimes this means we will be horrible bastards towards one another. Because people are horrible bastards at times. But God loves us anyway. And by loving one another, we could be less of a horrible bastard and that would be nifty. Would it not?