Yesterday the wait came to an end when I found my tribe. A tribe of women from all parts of both hemispheres. A tribe of women who are all travelling on a similar journey to me. A tribe of women who have decided that going to church while still loving Jesus isn't what they need. Yes, you read that right. Not going to church. Still loving Jesus. It's what is referred to as being a free-ranging Christian. My new tribe.
It's taken me over 18 months to get to this point. I had been attending church regularly for over six and half years prior to that. Three churches actually. "Church hopping" as it was once referred to in a conversation with a friend. A reference that irked me at the time, and still irks me now because it's not about the church. It's about my relationship with Jesus. And that's why I am now a free-range Christian. I don't feel part of the current church establishment. I find it overwhelming. I find it suffocating. And after a revelation from God a number of years back, I find that the practise of devoting oneself entirely to one church and all its activities takes away from the true purpose that Jesus came to earth to live out as our example.
I grew up going to church and the church I attended as a child and teen was my home. I have very fond memories of this church and the relationship I had with everyone there, my involvement, and what I learned there. I miss it actually. I miss the fact that it was small and everyone knew each other and it was home. I think this fact alone has had a huge influence on why I have never felt completely part of a new church. Too big. Too many cliques. Too focused on this or that. You get the drift.
Of the churches I have attended recently, I do have one particular church that I would still like to attend from time to time. It is because when I attended there I did not feel overwhelmed or suffocated, or alone for that matter. It is still a church establishment by today's standards, but Jesus is there. And I need Jesus more than I need to be a member of one particular church. More than I need to rock up and serve every Sunday. More than I need to devote my time to other Christians when there are so many others in my circle that need Jesus more.
From where I'm sitting right now while typing this, I have a 10 year old who needs Jesus. Looking out my window there are neighbours that need Jesus. When hanging out with my non-Christian friends I see a need for Jesus. And not a "let's invite you to church so you can meet Jesus" type thing. A tangible "Paula is a Christian but is still a really cool person to hang out with and respects who I am and accepts me for who I am and what I do" type Jesus.
So, getting back to my new tribe. It's a group of women from around the globe who are all free-ranging Christians. Who have all had experiences that have resulted in them either leaving the church establishment or adjusting their views on theology, or both. And I am really thankful for this new group of kindred thinkers. I can be myself and not feel that I don't fit in. I can express my views without them being negated just because I am not doing what "everyone else" is doing.
I am doing what God wants me to do. I am exactly where I am supposed to be today. I am closer to myself and God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit than I have ever been before. And it's good. It's home. And I have a tribe.
In Him Always,