First of all before I get into this blog post I want to make it clear that I am not intending to church bash or to attack anyone. What I’m trying to bring attention to is a culture I’ve come to learn is rife on Sydney’s northern beaches and is very much a part of megachurch culture. I’m a member of Hillsong Church currently.so I don’t hate church. I love church. It’s my love for church that motivates me to post this.
I was very blessed to be a part of an amazing church in Dubbo called Riverside Church. In this church I felt truly connected. I knew people that weren’t just from my connect/cell/link group. They were my friends. We would meet two sometimes three times during the week. Not just at church and not just for church related events or meetings. I had REAL CONNECTION!
When I moved to Sydney to do bible/creative arts college, I assumed that I would find that connection again in a new city. Sure I figured it would take some time being aspie and all, but it would happen. Sadly I was mistaken.
My involvement with C3 Church was purely obligatory. I was a member there because I went to their bible college. I tried different connect groups and making friends with students but it was all very shallow. Because I’m not super social I was basically ignored by most of the students/church members. In fact I was half way through my first year before I was able to find a connect group. There were a few friends I made. But the only friends that has stuck around since then is the man I married and his best man. To be fair a few of them went back to their home countries but there were even friends I made who still live on the beaches who I never see. So I figured, oh well life goes on, it wasn’t meant to be.
Once I got engaged my soon to be hubby and I looked for the right church for us. We figured we would try smaller churches since we both were members of a small church and loved it. Unfortunately for reasons I won’t go into it didn’t work out.
So we thought lets give Hillsong a go. They’re a bible based pentecostal church known for their creative ministries that should help us feel right at home. Plus with this being an extension service we get the perks of being part of a megachurch without needing to drown in the crowds of the mothership right? Well, not quite.
When we first walked in we were welcomed by one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. She made every effort she could to get us in a connect group asap. We thought finally we’ve found our home.
We were part of a great connect group for a while. But the once a fortnight meeting wasn’t enough for real connection. There was no or very little coffee catch ups or casual bbqs in between. There was great bible discussion, but very little deep one on one discussion. We found a great connect group, but not great friends. They are a wonderful bunch of people, just victims of the culture of being too busy and too cool. That’s the problem. Luke and I are not cool and therefor get not much more than the shallow ‘how was your week’ conversations in church and connect groups.
It’s the culture of trying to fit in spiritual connection into our lives and planners rather than the spontaneous trips to the movies where everyone is invited, not just the cool hipsters on the music team.
Gee I miss spontaneous hang outs, and I’m an aspie for goodness sake!
Also it really doesn’t help when the background music after church is so loud it makes it almost impossible for any meaningful interaction. Its almost as though a cool atmosphere is placed at a higher importance than fellowship.
Last week after church Luke and I were chatting about this clique culture subject for the millionth time and I got sad. I really thought we had found a church with real connection this time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Hillsong, Luke and I are not going anywhere. We are adults and have been christians long enough to not spit the dummy. In fact we will keep fighting for connection despite this culture of unintentional exclusiveness and cliques. The well meaning people in this church don’t see the disconnect because it’s part of the northern beaches culture. They think it’s real connection but it’s not, not the connection I know. Everyone is rushing around putting so much energy into being cool and fitting their fortnightly spiritual tick of the box. They say their hellos and call it ‘connect group’ or ‘fellowship’.
So one of the main reasons this bothers me is that I’ve grown up in church and love it yet I’ve struggled to feel belonging here in Sydney. I even volunteered to do lights in the services. I did it once and was never rostered on again. Sure if I sucked at it thats fine, I can take it. But no one suggested anything else. It was as though they assumed I had left or something. No email, text or phonecall.
A photo posted by Kate (@artandaspergers) on Aug 16, 2015 at 12:29am PDT
It takes more than fancy screen art to feel like you belong in church
What if I was a new non christian person walking into church? What if I was treated this way? No friends – just nice people I know? Who would disciple me? Who would reveal Christ to me? What if I had a physical disability and struggled with being social? Would there be friends for me?
Jesus is all about connection.
‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ – Galatians 3:28
Or to put it in the context of this blog – There is neither cool or uncool, there is neither aspie or NT, there is no introvert and extrovert, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Lets get connected,