After one too many sermons about "do not commit adultery" and "don't beat your wife", I quit attending Kenyan church. I lasted 10 months. I think that's pretty good considering sermons are a minimum of two hours long, and that does not include the announcements and singing and all the other things that Christians have been taught a church service must entail. I will admit that I miss church. I don't miss the building and the 3-point sermons and the Sunday morning announcements. I certainly don't miss watching people do what they think they're "supposed" to do to be Christian. But I do miss people. I miss worshipping together. I miss being a part of a "family" and helping each other along this journey.
In Kenya I've learned a lot about the church. Some good, some bad. Nairobi is the missionary mecca for Africa. And most of Kenya is Christian, carrying out the duties that missionaries told them are Christian. You can't turn on a Kenyan TV channel on Sunday morning and not hear some Kenyan preacher yelling at the congregation. And I mean yelling. What happened to teaching, I wonder. No, we've got to preach! And shout the fear of God into people! That's Christianity? I don't really remember reading about Jesus shouting a lot.
So the whole church thing has been turned over in my head a lot over the last few years in Kenya. Because I always had real church families in America, PEOPLE who were the church rather than the church BUILDING, I've never really had these things to sort out before. I look at my years in Kenya and see how there have been remnants of the church in my life here, despite not attending church in a building. People have come alongside me during the hard bits of my journey. I've had good theological conversations that make me really think about what I believe. People have become "family". It just doesn't look like the church down the road that I hear blaring music at midnight on a Friday night. It doesn't look like a church I once attended. It looks like people walking in the journey with me. That's what I always want church to be.
That's what I hope church will be like in Hungary. And I will admit I hope we find a church that meets in some building where I can meet more people who become "family", have good theological conversations, and worship with a band. (Yep, I miss the guitar in church.) But I've learned that church really is about people and journeys and not all the other stuff that Christian culture adds to the mix.
I haven't been to church in 2 years, and maybe that's been a good thing. Maybe that's been part of my journey and God teaching me a few new things.