Am I Burned Out?

Or just tired of the bullshit?  I’m talking about church, here.  A few Sundays ago, I tweeted “Church this morning. I’m not nearly as excited about that as I used to be.”  There was a time when I looked forward to Sunday morning like a teen looks forward to their 16th birthday.  But, it’s getting harder and harder to find the motivation to go.  If it wasn’t for Olivia, a lot of times I wouldn’t.  In case you didn’t know, that’s my youngest daughter and church is one of the few chances she gets to see her some of her friends here in lovely Wake County since her mother moved to Greensboro last summer.  Like I said, if not for her, I’d probably just stay home, drink coffee and watch Sunday Morning on CBS.  Some Sundays, it would be more productive. 

I’ve made no secret of my differences with the United Methodist Church.  But, in case you missed them, here they are:

  • We say we affirm equal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, but we won’t let LGBT people get married, minister in or (in some places) even join our church.  I wondered how we’re affirming anything but prejudice like that.
  • We tell youth and young adults that they’re part of our church family, then send every possible signal to tell them they don’t really matter to us.
  • It feels like we’ve lost our drive for mission and social justice at the local church level.  Unless we can write a check for it, then we’re all over it.  (same goes for youth and young adults)
  • We come up with nifty slogans and ad campaigns and then act like they don’t exist. 
  • We lost an excellent pastor recently because his congregation didn’t like things he said on his blog and facebook page.  Things that weren’t out of line with Wesleyan theology.

 These are the problems I have and I’ll grant that some of them may be happening in my church only.  But, I don’t think I’m the only one. 

I’m dealing with some burnout, but more than that, I’m tired.  I’m tired of belonging to an organization that is called to live out the Gospel but only does it when they’re comfortable;  Jesus never said a damn thing about personal comfort.  I’m tired of infighting and disagreements between liberal and conservative; why is this even an issue?  I’m tired of watching young people get crapped on because we don’t really know what to do with them.  I’m tired of denying people the right to marry the person they love.  I’m tired of high-minded slogans that never seem to filter down local level, partly because the church at large doesn’t really believe them; it’s just adspeak to get people to come to our church.  I’m just tired of the church not being THE CHURCH.

I think this is happening because Methodists don’t talk about being Methodist anymore.  Walk into just about any Methodist Church (especially in the Southeast), choose someone at random and ask them “Who was John Wesley?”  If the answer is anything other than a puzzled look, I’ll be surprised.  That’s because I can count one hand the references made to Wesley in my hearing in any church setting, not counting the ones I’ve made myself.  Once, when I brought this up, someone said “Don’t you think that’s boring?”  How can it be boring when it’s who we are?  We’re not supposed to be the fire-and-brimstone, pound-on-the-pulpit types, the ones on television telling you that God wants you to be rich, the ones on the frontlines of the culture wars, fighting tooth and nail to defend the faith.  We’re supposed to be the ones who minister to the prisoners, the ones who feed the hungry, the ones who show compassion to everyone, no matter who they are.  We’re supposed to the ones who love God and show that by loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.  Ain’t nothing boring about that.