Churches are lonely.
You can sit in one spot, not on your phone and not be noticed by one person. Unless you personally make an effort to talk to someone, no one will come over. The biggest issue of course with this, especially in churches that preach family and community, is that when there is such a lack of, the foundations of the church begin to crumble and essentially what the church preaches becomes fairytales for the church attendees.
I used to be told by my family that I should make the effort to talk to people. The trouble with that is is that I fear rejection. What if the person I’m talking to doesn’t really want to talk to me, so then we’re stuck in this loop of pathetic small talk; them trying to not seem inconvenienced by me, and me trying to make it seem that I actually wanted an intelligent conversation about something other than the weather.
Church leaders are blind to this!
And the main reason why they are is because, despite the Church preaching against it, there is a hierarchy of status and popularity. If you’re put on a pedestal, either because you preach, worship or are even a favourable friend of a Church Celebrity, you rise higher in the social hierarchy meaning people want to talk to you and want to be your friend.
Through youth, if you are a son or daughter to someone who is higher in the social hierarchy, again the situation occurs, evolving into favouritism from Youth Leaders and the children who are lower in the Social Hierarchy are left behind and even forgotten about. They become just a number attending.
Church leaders are blind to it because despite their best efforts to discourage it, it is human nature to want, at worse need, the comfort of people liking you and wanting you to be near them. Some church celebrities will deny that they are a celebrity and prove my point in that they don’t realise the hierarchy that they are locked into.
The church is dead set on bringing new people into its social space, however there is no nurturing beyond that because of the nature of the human condition.
When someone from the bottom of the hierarchy enters who isn’t Christian, they temporarily jump to the top of the hierarchy. The church pays so much attention to them, that the John Doe feels part of a family. They feel wanted and so they join. They slowly begin needing less attention, and then slowly dwindle back to the bottom. If you become friends with the ‘correct’ people or make the correct noises, you may stay at a higher rank, but nevertheless, you still are less of a priority.
The Church can’t nurture against its nature.
The church being the people and the people being humans and the nature of humans to form this social hierarchy, the church can’t even begin to break this awful cycle that only people left behind feel the full effects of it.
It begins to reach the peak of its own dilemma when people higher in the hierarchy try to encourage people lower to get out more, make friends, make noise, but when doing so, the people who the lowers try to reach are higher, the higher don’t necessarily want to interact with them because it doesn’t benefit their social status within the church.
This is disturbed on many levels.
It is disturbed because the church doesn’t address it or try to upset the status quo. It just sits their happily in its own hierarchy, not wanting to unsettle the comfortability of its own popularity. The noise makers are making the correct noises and bringing people in, and the quiet people are just blindly accepting this cruel fact and remaining quiet, too afraid of rejection to rock the religious boat. When quiet people try to make noise, they are stupefied into silence when people take no notice and stop using their noises.
I was once part of a worship band. I played guitar, but because I didn’t enjoy being in front of everyone’s faces, everyone heard my noise but didn’t progress with me. I dropped out of doing the worship band and empty promises of being brought back into it have led me to hardly playing guitar at all. In youth, I was noticed by the head of worship at our church, I was taught by possibly one of the best guitarists in our church, however because I was shy and didn’t pester, I was forgotten about.
In youth, favouritism discouraged me to attend and I slowly faded from the youth groups without anybody chasing after me; youth leaders focusing on the children of church celebrities, or children who make good noises. The same happened to my sister, and I’m more aware of it for my brother.
Friends that I once had in youth eventually stopped talking to me and even when they see me at church, walk past me as if I was invisible. Youth leaders who I used to look up to don’t seem to care how I’m growing as a woman of God. Yes, I may not need them so much as a guiding factor, but that doesn’t mean they have an excuse to lose interest.
At a Church Camping Event, I didn’t want to go on a Community Trip because of wanting to attend a seminar. The leaders of the Youth Group implored me to go, saying that I was a leader and that I needed to go. Yet I saw know evidence that they saw me as a ‘leader’. If I was a ‘leader’, why was I so easily forgotten about? I eventually went thinking maybe they had plans for me. I later learned that they were actually down on numbers for youth going on the outing, so needed to gather numbers.
This is the other heart of the problem. Leadership mindlessly endorse people, saying that they are leaders and others look up to them, but Leadership then forget to follow through on their preaches and encouragement.
If leadership see leadership qualities in other people; train them up! Don’t just promise it, put it into action and give them opportunities. If you don’t believe it, don’t say it. Not only does it give false hope to already hopeless people, but it discourages them further from wanting to be wanted.
My church believe in prophecies, and I had many prophecies spoken over me about me being a leader, being a beacon so on and so forth. But no matter how many metaphorical pies I stuck my thumbs into, the church forgot about my efforts and didn’t chase after me when I became a mute.
I’m not asking for sudden appointment and attention, but for the recognition of the problem and the church practising what it preaches.