A few weeks ago, I saw this link pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. It was a link to a blog post written by a fellow MK, Daniel, about his experience with the American church. I could tell it was a topic he was really passionate about and his words made me think about my own experience with the church over the past few years. I’ve never considered how being a TCK could change your view or experience with church so this week I want to spend some time reflecting on that.
Along with my own thoughts, I asked Daniel to share some more about his experience and I also asked Lizzy to share her thoughts as well. Both Lizzy and I read Daniel’s post before writing our own so if we reference his points negatively or positively, it is not in critique but simply because our thoughts were propelled by his. I hope this series makes you think about your own experience…feel free to share your story with us!
When we first moved back, I was so excited for us to find our new church. Our church in Italy was wonderful but there weren’t any other teenagers and the sermons were completely in Italian which, though expected, made it difficult to grow. The church we ended up joining in Austin was great for my two final years of high school. I really liked the teaching and the people were so nice. I struggled with feeling at home in youth group though – it never felt like a community to me. If my few friends weren’t there, I’d feel so lost and awkward. And that feeling never went away, even after two years. However, there were so many great things too. One of my favorite memories was planning the spring retreat my senior year with four other friends. The church I’m now going to in college is similar and I’ve absolutely loved it so far.
This is why I was a little surprised when reading Daniel’s blog post – I’ve never encountered the church he’s describing. I think some of his points are quite accurate, but others not so much. I remember I used to sometimes struggle with some of the things he mentioned (specifically the worship) until my pastor said something along the lines of this: “It’s not about you. It’s not about what kind of music you like or how loud it is. A lot of people tune out when they hear a song they don’t know which is wrong for two reasons, 1) it’s about God, not you and 2) it could be perfect for someone else.”
Ever since I heard that, I’ve thought about church differently. Not to say that you shouldn’t have any standards of preferences when choosing a church, but it’s not so much about us. People are messy, so churches are messy but we are called to live in consistent community with other believers.