I hate my church.
I hate the mindlessness of our routine. I hate some of the silly man-made norms that we follow. I hate that we don't have any real goals. I hate how we've developed the "Keeping up with the Joneses" mind set. I hate how we hate on people who don't fit into our inner circles. I hate the shallowness of our fellowship. I hate when the my pastor constantly solicits people to say "Amen" to every little thing. I hate hearing wordy and scripted prayers. I hate seeing kids exploited in "Children's Church". I hate the classist mentality that exists in our congregation. I hate not being able to understand the sermons. I hate when my ex-sort of-girlfriend keeps text messaging me during service. I hate how we've erected a multi-million dollar life center, while we're located in one of the poorest parts of one of the poorest cities. I hate how our foreign mission contributions dwarf the efforts of our our church expansion. I hate that I've been forcibly appointed to the deacon's ministry. I hate how our service is dictated by our radio broadcast. I hate the suspicion and mistrust that's the product of our refusal to be open and honest.
So Andre, if you hate this all so much, why don't you just leave?
I love the 70+ year old lady who embraces me every week and tells me that she's "praying for me". I love the support that I get from my pastor. I love the knowledge that is imparted to me by many of the older people in my congregation. I love the lady who tells me how handsome and intelligent I am. I love when my pastor's wife calls me "her son". I love my best friend (and spiritual partner) who hasn't given up on me just yet. I think it's safe to say that I'd go crazy without her. I love the other young minds who are caught in the middle of the same issues that I have, but refuse to give up on the church. I love the group of kids who crowd around me, but are a little 'too cool' to come out and say "We love you." I love how our choirs, even on 'off days', can lift their hearts in worship. I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get when I play the drums well. I love the commitment that many hard working members have to the various ministries in our church. I love the support that our church provides (funerals, financial assistance, clothes, food, etc.) for people who haven't stepped foot in the church for years. I love the elders of our church who may be trapped in their 'old ways' of thinking, but who have suffered and endured for a long time. I love my "Sandy"; who has been a true mentor to me and who has nothing to gain by giving herself to me. I love the organization of our church. I've been to churches where they make up the order of service as they go. I love the deacon who, despite his lack of education, can talk to God as well as any theologian. I love being 'put in check' by people if I'm missing for too long of a time; a sure sign that people care about me. I love the people who selflessly give extra offerings to support the church in whatever way possible. I love the people who take time to call or leave encouraging messages on my voicemail. I love that, even when people don't always agree with, they love me anyway.
...I love my church.