XXXI: No Formula

I did not go to church today.

I sat in our living room; marveling at the beautiful, frozen landscape that had created itself over the night.

My wife did not go to church today.

She sat beside me, half asleep, taking in the warmth of solar radiation and a pristine paralysis that surrounded her.

We did not go to church today.

Life is beautiful, it’s gorgeous, it’s an ever evolving, convoluted mess that somehow through the lens of many minds comes out in the form of art. It isn’t the form of patterns, control, or even a seasonal hymn. It’s just life the way it was intended to be designed.

Throughout FilingThePapers one theme has remained; God’s got control on lives that we frequently believe are out of our hands and impossible on our own. Frequently, we’re right with both opinions in our soul searching. However, the difference comes when we begin to believe that someone bigger, greater, stronger, more compassionate, forgiving, and even…yes…judgemental keeps it in balance.

In short; that’s my God. He’s pretty powerful.

For sometime now; years actually, I’ve struggled with understanding the modern church within the society that I lay claim to. In a strange way, I give praise to a divorce for allowing me to sober up from the spiritual drinks and awakening to a harsh, coarse reality.

That church just isn’t what it once was for me.

Sounds like a loaded statement, I’m sure someone is putting together a vat of holy water, another is whispering, “I told you he was fake”, and another soul has no idea what I just said because they’re too busy living multiple lives.

I grew up in the church. I’m a Millennial on top of that. I suppose by some statistics I’m a rarity; my generation left church and they never came back. It’s been such a perplexing conundrum as to why my friends never returned, and even more confusing on why I never left. Was it because of priorities? Comfort? Ambitions? Guilt? Condemnation? I’m not sure, but one thing I’ve noted, especially since beginning the research on this topic, is that the true-and-tried formula that the church has used for years just doesn’t work with this generation.

To be brutally honest; we don’t trust you.

Understand that, that is a significant difference from not trust God. We’ve watched the past generations speak hypocritically, judge those around us because of visual representations (or lack thereof),  become so consumed in the world around them that they become just that: the world.

Personally, after spending some time in Acts; I struggle to believe that the modern church is reflective to the original church. I have a hard time accepting persecution from the world because I’m busy watching Christian persecute another.

I fear that we’re beginning to see the fruits of our labor over the past early years of this generation. We’ve listened to your speeches, clapped to your songs, and stayed after for every carry-in dinner we could imagine. Yet, our souls still yearned more. Where’s the trust? The development? The ideology that we’re real with what we say, practice, and believe? What is real? Truth? How does it connect to God? How do we connect to God? There’s a break in fellowship, not the spiritual bridge. The understanding of being faith-based and living a God-centric life makes sense. It’s the understanding of the crucial development of fellowship and community that is so severely lacking. In some random way we’re on the opposite of the church in Acts. Where the church relied on each other for survival; some of us fear that we need to escape the church for survival.

When factoring that flight in with today’s modern social tones; it’s a dangerous ride for anyone regardless of spiritual size. I don’t have answers or solutions, only questions that ponder in my mind. How long with God tolerate this? How much damage will He allow us to do? Why do I not enjoy being in church? I understand Biblically that fellowship is so crucial to the development of the soul, but only when the environment is conducive to spiritual growth.

I’m glad I’m not the only person in this boat. Several people, even within the past week, all falling within these age parameters have expressed the burnout, the hurt, the violation, or the unbiblical stances in thought processes that don’t line up with the teachings of Christ.

It isn’t just me; it may be a strong amount of one generation. Maybe the question isn’t, “How do you we get them back into church?” Perhaps it’s more along the lines of, “Do we even know what the church is supposed to be? If we do, how do we plan to reach the world around us?” God never talked about pushing people through the doors, taking a talley, and giving out stickers for attending Sunday School. The Bible talks so strongly about going out, going out, going out, going out, and when you have worn yourself ragged from going out those doors…go out again.

Somedays I still struggle with understanding the difference between the local church and the local golf club. Khakis, clean looks, and all a frivolous game for only those entitled to play.

My dream: Simply to find this lost generation, plead forgiveness, and demonstrate trust and unconditional love. Sounds cliche, but when at any point has the church stopped and recognized, “We’ve hurt those around us, and within us?”

My heart hurts because I fear those who read this and completely disagree; still stuck in situations where they’re blind to a crying generation.


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