Gender & Identity, Life

I wish I grew up in the church, but not for the reasons you’d think

That uncertainty about God is scary and made life seem pointless.

I didn’t grow up in the church.

I was christened, baptized, and a member of a Baptist church, but I wasn’t sitting in the brown, wooden pews every Sunday morning learning about God. My immediate family and I lived two hours from our church home—where my parents grew up—so it wasn’t feasible for us to go every week.

But I wish we had. Or at least, I wish we had found a local church to attend. There is a whole slew of benefits to attending church as a kid. And most of them don’t have anything to do with religion.

Let me preface this by saying, there is no feeling like that of your home church, especially in the black community. The gospel music, the never-ending sermons, and for some, the only public place where you aren’t the minority—nothing compares to these things.

[bctt tweet=”A church provides a supportive, forgiving atmosphere that helps to diminish fear of failure.” username=”wearethetempest”]

However, the rewards for church-going might have outweighed the difficulty of finding a new place of worship.

My cousins grew up in the church, and I see how much confidence they carry throughout life as a result of it. Being forced to hold an active role in ministry meant they had to engage in public speaking, perform in front of the congregation, help plan events, and more.

A church provides a supportive, forgiving atmosphere that helps to diminish fear of failure. And I think that becomes an essential skill later on in life.

Churches also have hierarchies and business operations. Money is necessary to keep the lights on, voting is required to elect new leadership, and the people involved in the decision-making processes must all be members of the church.

I remember a time when my grandma thought it essential for my three siblings and me to come to church and vote in an election. Our pastor had recently moved, and the congregation needed to decide on the church’s next steps. Before that moment, I had never realized the responsibilities that come with being a member of a church. And I had also never experienced that type of significance and involvement.

Our pastor had recently moved, and the congregation needed to decide on the church’s next steps. Before that moment, I had never realized the responsibilities that come with being a member of a church. And I had also never experienced that type of significance and involvement.

Churches are more than buildings where we come to pray. They are often autonomous entities that must follow procedures and maintain membership to survive. They also afford us a community of like-minded individuals. I’ve seen my family members make some of their closest friends while participating in church ministries. In fact, my parents, whose marriage has lasted 30 years, attended the same church as kids.

And then there is faith.

[bctt tweet=”That uncertainty is scary and made life seem pointless.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Throughout my childhood, only attending church on Easter, Men’s Day, Vacation Bible School, and other major events (often those that included a dinner afterward) fragmented my learning about God. This incomplete or inconsistent education resulted in a lack of comfort when talking about religion, a misunderstanding of the Bible, and a period of my life when I didn’t believe in anything.

These experiences aren’t to say that believing in nothing is wrong. But it was difficult for me. It was difficult not to know enough about believing in God, and consequently, not knowing why I didn’t.

That uncertainty is scary and made life seem pointless.

[bctt tweet=”I would have been able to make a decision about my faith, or lack thereof, and been confident about what I believed.” username=”wearethetempest”]

But I think there would have been less confusion had I consistently attended church. I would have been able to make a decision about my faith, or lack thereof, and been confident about what I believed.

Now, I’ve had to re-learn. I’ve had to ask questions, study, and reflect on my experiences to reach this point in my life. And while I think I am happy about where I stand, I can’t help but believe that it could have been easier along the way.