The Church Drift
One day last summer I lost my church. Or rather, it lost me.
I'd been out of the country a couple weeks, and, therefore, hadn't been to church in a while. My first Sunday back, I showed up at the usual time and place ready to reconnect with friends through a communal experience of faith.
My first clue of something amiss was pulling in my usual three minutes late and being the only car in the parking lot. Inside, the community center that had been our church plant's meeting place for the past eight months was empty. I even drove to the new building we were in the process of converting into a church to see if we were holding a special service there. Nope.
I drove around feeling like an idiot. Who loses their church?
Apparently I do.
When I got home and consulted our church website, I realized services had switched to summer hours while I'd been gone. Apparently with preparing for and taking my trip, I hadn't been to church in longer than I'd thought.
The following week I came down with pneumonia, making me miss another three Sunday mornings of worship. So, all told, I didn't darken the door of my church for two months (though, for the official record, that one week in there I really did try).
As I came out of my pneumonia–inspired stupor and began re–entering the world, I had a startling thought: It would be easy to simply not go back to church.
While I enjoy my ethnically diverse little church plant family, I and four other people are the only singles in our 150–member congregation. The rest of our body of believers is mostly young couples with several toddlers in tow.
Being the odd one out every Sunday isn't easy. I often have to sit alone. Several of the parents are connected to each other through their kids, and I don't share that connection. And many of the sermon illustrations, centered on marriage and parenting, apply to the majority of this congregation, but leave me out.
While most days I truly enjoy my single life, I struggle to sit amidst so many people at a life stage I thought I'd have reached by now—and to do so week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out.
I think I was most concerned that no one called during those two months I went missing to find out where I was.
For all these reasons, sometimes I simply feel invisible at church. So I'm tempted to really truly disappear, and therefore not attach such negative connotations to one of my key spiritual experiences.
I've discussed the lack of single men in the church, part of a larger issue of males in general drifting away from "too feminized" worship experiences on Sunday mornings. About a year ago, I told a friend I was worried that if churches didn't change their hyper family focus, they'd start losing single women as well.