I have no idea if this will resonate with readers or not. Truth is, I never know. But I write anyway, otherwise I go bonkers as my brain explodes. Plus that's messy.
I seem to read many books or hear many people discuss the various things that are "missing" for them regarding "church." Some grew up in very strict religious families that held to very strict conservative beliefs that, for them, have not rung true as they have grown into adults. Others have misconceptions about "church" based on the media (print, TV, films, etc.). Still others seem to have a sense of loss or, worse, ambivalence when it comes to this thing called "going to church." They can't relate to the songs or the sermons or other aspects of the gathering. Or they know some of the people well and have seen how they act away from church and, therefore, feel led to label them hypocrites. At the very least, when push comes to shove (like elder meetings! ha!) - many feel disconnected or even let down by "the church" for a variety of reasons.
Before you feel led to label me judgmental, let me confirm that I have been that very same person - the one pointing fingers of blame for the same reasons.
But something happened to me about 40 years ago (well, it began about 40 years ago and has been continually gnawing at me ever since that time.) I met the actual Holy Spirit!
If you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ then you intellectually and spiritually know and believe that the moment you come to a saving relationship with Jesus, you are what theologians call "regenerated." You are a new creation. You are born again. And, at that moment, the Holy Spirit takes up residency in your life - like a much more meaningful version of a conscience or Jiminy Cricket. The Holy Spirit is your guide, your counselor, your barometer, if you will. And, that is a fantastic mystery that I truly don't fully understand. And, I'm okay with that.
But 40 years ago, after 10 years of living as a Christian, attending church, going to camps, going to Bible studies, and hearing about the Holy Spirit, I suddenly encountered his presence in a way I had not up to that point in my life. I don't think the church I attended deliberately ignored the Holy Spirit, it was just a somewhat "unmentionable understanding" and we never delved deeper.
Space does not afford me what is needed to share the full story and I apologize for that. But, bottom line, I met THE power source when I met the Holy Spirit. For me, personally, it was not wrapped up in the hoopla of speaking in tongues (though I have) or flopping around on the ground, or any other manifestations that appear to others as crazy. For me, it was more of a solidification and confirmation that what I felt in my heart (but never uttered) was true - that there really is power available to all who call ourselves followers of Jesus.
And, it is that power - the power of the Holy Spirit - that has always - and I honestly mean always - allowed me to remain as free as humanly possible from the various "church longings" for which others seem to be either missing, or constantly in search of.
In other words, I don't find myself wishing the theology in the hymns or modern songs was more profound or even "accurate" - because I trust the Holy Spirit will sort any confusion and simply fill me with his presence. I don't find myself eager to complain about specific "issues" during the gathering because I know the Holy Spirit fills me with his presence. I don't find myself searching for some unattainable "other" because the greatest "other" of all - the Holy Spirit - fills me with his presence and I simply am no longer interested in, or in need of, searching for "more." I don't say this to puff myself up - not at all! I say it to ENCOURAGE anyone reading this who does find themselves constantly in search of "more out of church" to simply take some time and ask Jesus to help you meet the Holy Spirit in a way you have not yet encountered. And see if that makes a difference in your need for "more." I believe it will!
There is a strong move today by believers on both sides of the aisle to make certain "holy demands" hoping the "other side" finally comes to their senses. We all know the debates. (ugh!). I laugh sometimes at how those who scream to love one another seem to lose that sentiment themselves! "Love one another you assholes!" It boggles my mind, to be honest. But - that's where people are at and life is messy. I truly believe in my heart that if more of us were willing or able to shift the focus from the HOW (the externals) to the WHO (the internal - the person of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit) we would see the atmosphere change. Because that is what is promised by Jesus. "the Holy Spirit will come upon you and..." (what... oh, come on - you know....)
So, if your holy "search engine" remains on - look first to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.