Sherri at Matter of Fact posted this today. She asked us to answer these questions about our experience with church and why or why not attend it.
1. I would like to know specifically, how "The church" has been a help and /or hindrance in your life.
This is interesting because it has been both the greatest blessing and the greatest curse in my life. I started out in the church as a preacher's daughter with a doctor Jekyl/Mr Hyde preacher father, who was a smiley preacher on Sunday and an angry, frustrated, sometimes abusive father the rest of the week.
I could not reconcile the difference between what he preached and what he lived. It was a private hell. I grew to hate God. Church people were fools who didn't know the truth about my dad, and perhaps lived secret wicked lives of their own.
Then, in the summer, we would go to a camp where there were these sincere people who preached the word of God, and God's presence was there. At that camp I could feel God's presence and the truth of Christ became real to me, but only briefly, through a window. It was lost to me until I had a crisis at 18 and I gave my life back to Christ. Then I walked with God briefly and then church became a place where one could connect with other believers - true believers. But I also realized the difference between church and going to something "deeper" like a bible study in someone's home, where relationships were closer and people got into God's word.
I realized that was more valuable than going to church and one didn't really need a church building or the trappings of church to have the essential things - fellowship with believers, worship, and God's word being taught. A living room is all you need, and low finance!
I fell away because everyone in my bible study got married and left me out. I felt God didn't really love me because he left me out of this blessing.
I ran to California, I sowed my wild oats. But I would visit church to connect with believers and to connect with God. And always there was something there - the people had something real because I always found good churches that preached the truth.
Then, after I did that and fell in love with a man and the man left me, and I ran into a serious health problem, I came back to Jesus because A) I needed healing and B) I needed God to heal my heart and fill my void.
Since then I have applied myself seriously to being in fellowship and the word of God. I found this awesome church in Canada that was in revival from 1994 until now known as the Toronto blessing, and there experienced a taste of heaven as I have never known. People acted like Jesus!! I received God's love and learned from them how to practice the presence of God and find God's love. I received so much heart healing. It was there that I realized that only Christians really understood love.
2. What characteristics do you consider to be most important in a true Christian?
Transparency - honesty about sin.
3. What disturbs you the most about Christianity or those who practice it?
Lack of repentance from sin
Underestimating God's power and goodness
4. If you are a Christian, what do you consider to be the most valuable part of your belief?
5. If you are not a Christian, what part of Christianity is appealing to you?
6.In what ways do you see Christians acting out as Christ would?
I do know one thing - no one will love you, truly love you like a Christian will. All the love that has gotten me through in life has come from Christians!!!
7. In what ways do you see Christians acting in ways that are not Christ like at all?
I've seen preaching of God's word, making a confession of faith, and then not being interested in people's needs and feelings. I've seen people who attend church and then refuse to work in a soup line or bend down to do anything for the poor and unfortunate. I've seen people who like a form of religion, and churchy things, but don't really like true worship of God, and get impatient with people. I've seen being nice at church only to turn on family members on the way home with impatience and anger. I've seen people who profess faith in Christ but they are just rude and inconsiderate and ungrateful, but I understand now that in all these things they are people who are rebels against God who have not come to repentance.
8. For those of you that attend church services regularly, why do you continue to do so?
I go because I know I can find the sincere people who love God, and because there is nothing like corporate worship!!!!!!
9.For those of you that don't attend church services regularly, why do you not participate?
10.What one word or phrase would you use to describe Jesus?
11.What one word or phrase would you use to describe Christians?
12. What do you think is the greatest misconception about Christianity?
That it's a religion you have to work at. Jesus is a life and a relationship, a way of being.
13. Have you come across a good Christ-like example in your life?