I’ve never understood why it bothers other people that I don’t go to church. By other people I mean mostly Nigerians who are christians. I sense the discomfort my laid back response of ‘no I don’t go to church’ evokes. Most inquisitors will hurriedly change the conversation; a few might ask “are you a Muslim?”.
I have concluded that these people are not interested in my salvation. What it is, or rather what I think it is, is that I belong to a culture that doesn’t accept people who choose to deviate from the norm or question the status quo. For all the education, integration, and exposure, we are still mostly comfortable with things that are familiar, people who share the same values and aspirations, do the things we do, how we do it – perhaps this is intrinsically what human socialization is.
I do not underestimate the significance of congregational worship. I get it completely. It just isn’t for me. And I wish people wouldn’t convolute church attendance with faith, because we all ought to know that both are not the same. I often detect silent judgement, the questioning of my values, and even my fitness as a wife and mother because i am not a regular church attendee – conservative nigeria.
For those who dig deeper and ask me questions I am honest. I’m just not that interested in physically attending church, and yes I know Pentecostal churches are good fun, but I haven’t been to one since forever. I don’t agree with most of the new Pentecostal teachings. I don’t agree with prosperity teachings. I don’t agree with generational curses. I don’t agree with pastors owning private jets. I don’t agree with the lack of female leaders in the church. I don’t agree with the suppression of women. I don’t agree with the exploitation of women. I don’t agree with the dogmatic pursuit of tithes. I don’t agree with young girls volunteering for hours on end at the church. I don’t believe in teachings that wouldn’t denounce domestic violence or provide shelter for battered women. I don’t believe in demonizing gay people. I don’t believe in leaders that wouldn’t stand and fight for poor people. And I just can’t brush this all aside by saying I will attend and focus only on the word of God, because I strongly believe that the word and the teaching should be entwined.
I tried the Church of England for some few months and I tell you it was so boring I wanted to cry! Now Angligans ought to learn a thing or two from the Razzmatazz of Pentecostal churches. Do I miss going to Pentecostal churches? Yes, sometimes. After all, the motivational speeches of pastors can be powerful and mesmerizing. But more than that there is something comforting about worshiping with people who share the same faith, hope and aspirations. But there is the thing, apart from faith, I find that increasingly I do not share the same hope and aspirations as most of my fellow church attendees. I am not wielded to the dream of monetary prosperity or more and more and more blessings. My deepest prayer is to become less needy of material wealth, less a follower or pursuer of consumerism. I want to seek and delight in the simplest things. I am looking for that church that emphasises the humility of Christ, one that teaches me to forsake material pursuit for spiritual growth, and without dangling the carrot of worldly wealth. I need teachings that encourages and challenges me to recognise my abundant blessings , be content with it, and focus more on being a blessing to others.