You cannot have your cake and eat it too.
Why else do you make cake? You make cake to eat, right? So, what the hell else are you planning to do with that cake?
We stayed at a church for a long time. It’s the longest we ever stayed at one church. And we didn’t agree with everything, but we didn’t question much. It wasn’t until the end…when we were about to move…we really started looking at whether we agreed with things being said and done in the church. We’ve talked about this openly…The church still has a conversion program…it’s wrong…we didn’t question it enough. If you are going to be a deacon at the church, you can’t drink. That’s weird. And there were other things we disagreed with…But you always heard, “God calls you to a church, and if He calls you there, you stay till He calls you out.” Or, the sideways talk about people who leave because they “weren’t being fed”. Or the folks who quit coming and were out living their lives on Sunday mornings…or sleeping in…How we are losing a generation because parents allow church to be an option. And the list goes on and on…But the commentary was clear, people who leave are somehow sinful and wanting sinful things from God…like to be fed by Him…to agree with all the practices of their church …or to feel loved by their leadership…
Cake. Dammit. They wanted their cake and to eat it too. We never left, to be honest. We just moved to another city.
The next church was similar. Maybe more regimented. Openly regimented. The pastor was leaving, and the talk was whether people would leave because of him. And the talk was about being called to a church and staying till God calls you to another church. And when folks left people talked about it. And said side-ways things. And the talk about being fed. And the talk about being called. And the talk about those who left. The talk behind their back. And I listened. I hadn’t been there long enough to engage. But the talk. From leadership. Ordinary leadership, but even from the pulpit. So odd to think about now. Side bars and side notes.
Commentary on people who leave because they don’t like the music. People who leave because they don’t like the youth program. People who leave because they think church is created for them. People who leave because they don’t like the pastor. And y’all. The list goes on and on and on.
Church people talk bad about church people who “church shop”. Like it’s a bad thing to figure out what you want. Church people talk bad about church people who have gone to too many churches. Because clearly to seek the right church is not ok. Clearly you should be called and lead and all the other holy words. And it keeps you there. Keeps you in your seat. If you are happy in other areas of your church you stay…Because if you leave, your leadership and your friends will talk about you too. And folks stay and stay and stay. Leaving is a weird “sin”.
And what if your church completely changes? What if it grows beyond what you are comfortable? What if they start preaching politics from the pulpit? Or make rude comments about people from the pulpit? Or get a new pastor you can’t stand? Or bring in screens to project the sermon to new locations? Or the staff changes? Or no one cares about you? Or your leadership team is filled with assholes who talk bad about people in their church? Or you hate the worship style? Or you want them to quit spending money on things that don’t matter? Or you wish they built into their community? Or they don’t believe women can preach? Or they have a conversion program? Or they suck at loving the people right in front of them? Or they are mean? Or they don’t know your name after all this time? Or they take your money, but never listen to your thoughts? Or you’re tired of church? Or you quit enjoying dragging everyone out of bed? Or you would kill for a Saturday service? Or you never feel like you belong? Or you just don’t like the church…you just don’t like it…
What if…what if…you just wanted your cake and to eat it too?
What if you totally get and understand “No church is going to be perfect”…But you would like to LIKE it…
What if the place you are going to spend hours on Sunday is not the place you want to spend hours? What if thinking about driving there makes you feel 900 pounds of anxiety? And you have walked into places where you felt joy and love and grace. What if there is no reason…No real reason…you just don’t like it.
I just wanted to say that to you today. I wish someone had said it to me a million times over. I wish all the millions of times I have heard leadership talking bad about people behind their backs for leaving…or talking to their congregations about staying even when you don’t like it…I wish someone had smiled (and not in a shitty way), and said, “You can leave…it’s really ok.” Y’all. Sometimes we don’t have to change a church. We get to say, because we are not idiots, “I don’t like this, and I want to leave.”
So, let me say this…I love church. LOVE church. I love worship songs. I love putting my hands in the air. I love standing next to people and crying and having people put their hands on my back. I love not being super involved in church right now because I work full time and I have four kids…I love Sunday hugs and Sunday banter. I love a good honest sermon. I love hearing the Bible read out loud. I love communion. I love texting my friend, Jessica, to save me a seat. I love praying. I love dim lighting. I love turning around and greeting people. I love taking too long to get to the car because I talk too much to everyone. I love it all. In a crazy way.
And I get to say all this because I have my cake and I am eating the fuck out of it too.
And you can too. You can have it too. Whatever it is you are looking for, it’s out there. You can find it. And you may have to leave a lot of places just to get a glimpse of it…But you know it exists. You can feel it in your heart. And I believe it for you too. A place where it is truly different than all the other places. And I’m rooting for you along the way. And cheering you on…And saving you a big old slice of cake too. Because cake is for eating. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different again.