It’s that time of year again. Christian festival season. Woo :L
For many people, it is their principle opportunity to take time out to really hear from God. (Unfortunately, people don’t seem to realise that God is just as accessible at church or a conference as He is in their bedroom at home.)
Last week I was helping at a summer camp called NewWine, held in Somerset. It was a pretty exhausting week, but so much fun! I was helping with the 10-11 year olds, jumping about with them, helping them with sports and crafts and, most importantly, helping them to engage with God and praying for them.
I really love praying out loud for people, I get the privilege of speaking love and light into their lives. It’s amazing! *^_^*
Ever since I’ve started going to summer conferences, we’ve pretty much always camped as a family. A single, solid, and separate unit. Always shifting between churches, we’ve never really belonged to a church family; I think my parents grew discontented with the spiritual health of our local churches. I guess it’s an amazing legacy that my parents have given us, of listening to the Holy Spirit each Sunday, to see where we should go to church. But equally, it seems that their discontentment with how church is done is something I have picked up.
At university, after the first term, I decided to look around churches again, as I felt stifled and unable to worship God as freely as I’d like to. This, in hindsight is a ridiculous notion and really it’s all to do with me and not the church. If I feel unable to dance about and raise my arms to heaven amongst people who are very conservative, then I am focusing on myself, and not on God, as I’m thinking about what other people think of me, not wanting to draw attention to myself. This is a revelation I have literally just had, writing this post!
Anyway, back to the point…festivals! So this past week, there were some people on the same team as me from a church we went to for a while, so I knew them, but not very well. I should have felt comfortable on the team, knowing I wasn’t alone. But I didn’t.
Somehow, during these festivals, I experience the most profound loneliness of all the year. They are the weeks when I cry the most.
What has really been emphasised this week is how cliquey churches are, and each clique is extremely exclusive. Despite camping next to the church I mentioned before, not once did they come over to our tents and say hi, although they were the majority. My mum was especially upset by this, that although they were aware our family was there, they didn’t acknowledge us, and even when my mum went over to them with my nephew, she was ignored.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love those people and their church dearly, this is more of a plea to youth groups and churches in general to get their act together and extend their hand to people who are on the edge, some of whom don’t know Jesus yet. Who knows when they’ll next have the opportunity to see the love of Jesus in action?
Maybe I should be grateful for these experiences, if anything it’s given me a deeper appreciation of inclusion, so that I have more compassion and an inclination to make the extra effort to involve people on the edge.
Let me just finish with this, that we should be loving not just our own, but anyone we meet. And not just wishing them well in our hearts and praying for them, but also actively making sure they feel okay and included. Especially, but not exclusively, people who are on the edge of church and haven’t made a commitment yet to follow Jesus.
God bless you :) xxx