11 March 2009

Team Jesus

I don't think I have the shoelaces anymore, but my husband thought they embodied some strange theological concept when I brought them home from church one week. All the children got a pair during Sunday School because they were all part of "Team Jesus!"

I feel like "Team Jesus" really failed us. Patrick could read and write circles around the other children in the class, but we were second-class citizens because we didn't homeschool. They treated G something terrible. And for a while, I let them because I thought being Christlike meant you took crap from those who should know better. Just being honest with you.

See, they divided the classes by grades. Children under first grade got to go in with the toddlers and learn to sing "Jesus loves me" and stuff like that. Bigger children were sat down and taught before their activity time. Well, there was a homeschooler not three weeks older than G who would have been in preschool had she been sent to public schools. But her mom had her doing "first grade," so she got in with the big kids.

Ok, it bothered me. But I understood that G was a bit behind. At the time he was not diagnosed as autistic, but it was a bit hard to send him off with the diaper babies while Little Miss Perfect (from a better family than mine, sorry) gets to go in with the big kids.

Then an invitation came for Patrick to attend a birthday party of a younger child. G was not invited despite being closer in age to this child. The child? The pastor's son.

I had had enough. It was starting to bother me that there was this uneven treatment of my boys. I told them Patrick "couldn't make it" to the party. Then I put G into that first grade class the following Sunday morning and left him. I was hoping that maybe, people would give G a fair chance. That we could be accepted as a genuine part of the church. ALL of us.

But sure enough, that week I got a phone call about how this was not appropriate as G is not a first grader.

THANKS a lot for your grace, buddies. See ya. Guess we're not a part of "Team Jesus" any more because we don't play by your rules.

Do you think anyone should ever change churches? Do you think it has to be a theological reason, or you're in sin? Do you think you can "shop for" a church that fits your family? Sure, Christians in China don't have the option of looking for the place with the prettiest floral arrangement up front or the place that sings the nicest hymns. But does that mean we have to hunker down, stay put and be unhappy? I'm just asking.

11 comments:

  1. You should not have to dread going to church. I think a person has every right to "shop" around for a church that accepts all family members no matter the quirks they may have and make you feel comfortable. There is nothing wrong with that!

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  2. I am reading a book now on including people with disabilities in faith communities. I don't know if you are going to find a perfect church. Because when a church decides it should include others, the first thing they think about is architectural barriers. The fact that the church isn't inviting, either in their word or attitude is not really first on their agenda. That being said, I am much more willing to tell people what our family needs than I was in the past and generally their is accommodation, sometimes grudgingly.

    That being said, I think that Christians are always able to follow the Holy Spirit and go to whatever church they felt led to attend. This includes going to a church that most meets the needs of your children; children who might reject Christ, the head of the church, if they felt rejected by the body.

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  3. You even need to ask me?! :D

    Firstly I think some churches are closer to the Holy Spirit's leading than others so that's one thing I check for. Secondly teaching. If I sniff a rat in the teaching it's gone & no second chances. Thirdly I check out how the people deal with newcomers. One pastor we had said a church gets just 3 minutes to convince a newbie they are welcome & if they're snubbed in that 3 minutes they'll never come back. I agree with Juluie. You should always be able to go with the Holy Spirit who will lead you somewhere that meets ALL your needs.

    China, being a persecuted church, cannot afford to self destruct by internal squabbling. I have sometimes thought a little persecution would be good for the West but I'm a bunny rabbit & don't want to be on the experential end of the persecution. lol.

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  4. When we first moved to Pasadena, I blogged about "Church Shopping." Not quite as fun as shoe shopping, but equally hard to find what you're looking for.

    http://gombojav.blogspot.com/2007/01/church-shopping.html

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  5. when Nana first came to America she was so excited to go to synagogue - and then she met the ladies there ;)

    she went from shul to shul until she found the one she felt comfortable in - I would often go to services with her -

    she once told me "worshipping God is supposed to be joyful"

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  6. If you wait to find a church without problems you can pretty much forget about going to a church...but I think you know that. I guess it comes down to finding the best situation you can, doctrinally, relationally, decent coffee in the foyer etc. and just one where people are at least trying not to be jerks.

    I think about this too but for different reasons than you I imagine. I haven't really enjoyed going to church at all since I've been a Christian but a lot of it's been good for me.

    There are certainly legit reasons to look for a new church

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  7. Thanks, Shelly! I think I've found a pretty good one now.

    Julie, I read your post on including people with disabilities and had nothing to add also. :]

    Ganeida, I'd like to think I give people more than three minutes to wow me with their niceness... actually I might give some people too long LOL!

    Daja, I read your post and wondered if you landed at the "artsy" church LOL!

    Dianne, fortunately or not, people are the same everywhere aren't they? Your Nana sounds like she was one tough cookie, not easily swayed.

    Catherine, I was hoping for something close enough to perfect to be liveable LOL!! I'm always afraid to drink coffee or eat commonly touched food in the foyer... for many reasons.

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  8. Mrs. C, I am a regular reader of your blog and am remaining anonymous due to the sensitive nature of this.

    We have never had a problem with my autie daughter being accepted (she has a sweet gentle nature). My son had a hard time because there were two cliques: this school and that school. They did not know what to do with a homeschooler who did not do X, Y, and Z like all the other kids. Plus, we are not from here.

    We finally had enough and went to another church that was not a "country club" church. We picked one that was "only" thirty years old and started going to it last month. Their genuine welcome and affection bowled us over! We are still waiting to see about the youths but, at least, the youth pastor is aware of cliques and I have seen him take actions to get around them (like having all them sit on one long table, rather than at separate tables).

    I believe there are genuine churches. It takes time and prayer to find them . . .

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  9. I think DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY you can search for a church ("shop" for a church) that meet's your family's needs and desires. Nor should you feel guilty about it. YOu should try every church available until you find the one where you feel comfortable.

    Wherever makes YOUR FAMILY feel good and has PEOPLE YOU LIKE AND FEEL COMFORTABLE ASSOCIATING WITH is the church you should stick with!!!!

    Don't even listne to people who criticize you for going to a church farther away, or whatever.

    Paloma

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  10. You should definitely enjoy church. And the church should enjoy having you.

    It is suppose to be joyful and worshipful and you can't be either if you are being picked on. I hope you find a church that welcomes you right off the bat.

    BTW I teach 1st grade Awanas and just had a little boy join that is autistic. It will be my first one to actually teach. He seems very low-key, but when seperated from his sister had a small meltdown. I sat and read him several comic strips from their book and he finally cheered up. Sister is younger and the grandparents want him in his own class. We are praying for him to keep coming. I am very hopeful for him. (he is being raised by the grandparents)

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)