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Sam Davidson's blog

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I Left Church and Found Community

This post has nothing to do with my opinions of pipe organs. Nonetheless, my mother-in-law may still find it loathsome.

After nearly three years visiting almost every place that serves Sunday breakfast in Nashville, I think I found the best one – the one that I could visit over and over again. Of course, I need to go there again (maybe this Sunday) to make sure that I didn't imagine it, get lucky, or that it doesn't catch on fire this week. Sunday brunch with my family is important to me, so you can imagine how excited I am to find a spot that offers enough diversity for my picky family without having the word "cheesecake" in the title.

I'm able to go to Sunday brunch each week because I stopped going to church. This is so not where I thought I'd be ten or even five years ago.

But, I couldn't be happier.

Community – having a place where I belong and can be my most 'me' – is important to me. It's important to humans, really. We're social animals. We crave attention, affection, acceptance and connection. It's good when you can call someone 'yours.' It's better when someone can call you that, too.

But it's so hard to find. Like hope, people need it so badly they'll pay top dollar. So, if you can help create, develop and sustain real community, congratulations. You'll be rich very soon.

For a long time, church was a place where I could find community. It was a place to meet people, talk about stuff that mattered and be encouraged to be my most me. But, something changed. Maybe it was entering the real world. Maybe it was working for a living and understanding that time spent off the clock was time that I wanted to spend only on things that were truly personally enjoyable. Shopping for churches is never enjoyable.

In the process of all that, I started my own faith community. A handful of us gather at my home on Sunday evenings to talk about our weeks, dream together about how to be better people and our most respective selves, and provide support, hope, and insight for each other. We're all (mostly) former church members, vagabonds who have found a stopping point where we'd like to stay for a while.

I don't know if I’ll ever go to church again. Speaking in one (which I do about six times a year) and visiting one with my in-laws on Christmas Eve is about all the church-related exposure I get now. Lots of Facebook friends of mine work in churches and I wonder what their lives are like. A lot of other Facebook friends go to church a lot and really like it. I wonder what their lives are like, too.

Hopefully (certainly, right?), they've found a community there. Hopefully it's the best community they could find or else they wouldn't be wasting their time in a place where they couldn't be their most selves.

My biggest community moments happen each week on Sunday. One is in the morning over breakfast food with my family and the other is in the evening with those who are part of The Story. There's not much prayer, preaching, Bible reading or singing at either one. Maybe churches could provide a better actualization of community if they stopped doing all that.