“The U-Turn: Why I turn the car around most Sundays” (by Tim Moore)


It’s a cool morning, and there’s a sweet taste in the air. I drive downtown and watch the sun peek over the hill ahead. I pass people walking on the sidewalks, dressed in ties and hosiery. I come to a creaky stop at the intersection. The light turns green and I’m supposed to go straight, but I get a hardening in my chest. I head back to my house instead.

This setting is one that has been too often repeated in my life. So… where was I heading in that scenario? Church. I was going to church.

Let’s rewind a few years.

I was born into a denomination that represents one of the more rare churches in Cleveland. To get an idea of this church, at some point in my infancy, I gazed at wood cathedral ceilings as my smiling family gathered around a robed man dripping water onto my forehead. This was also one of the few typical family-in-church moments in my life.

During grade school, my family left our home church and tried another church in the area. It wasn’t long after that my mother, who grew up in a churchless family, became tired of the hypocrisy of the church. The tiredness led to apathy from going, while my father continued to go as a good pastor’s son would.

For a while, I found myself more on the apathetic side. How many kids would want to continue going to church if they could stay home? Not many, and I definitely wasn’t one of them.

However, when I was in middle school I decided to get involved in a youth group, and that meant going alone. I was interested in joining the church I grew up in, as they had an almost-cool youth group. Until I was able to drive myself, I hitched rides every Wednesday and Sunday for years. I went alone every time, but I managed to get reconnected with old friends and their families which seemed to justify it. While at times it was a struggle to be surrounded by church-raised families and see the connectedness they gained through it, I learned that I could create my own church-going experience.

Senior year of high school came quick, and I noticed a change of heart. No longer were the activities, retreats or Sunday lunches enough.

I wanted substance. I wanted to have the big discussions. I wanted to ask the tough questions. I wanted to have a real church family and to be supported.

I talked with my pastor, associate pastor and youth pastor about it. At the time, I believe they listened and heard me out.

But that wasn’t enough. I grew increasingly frustrated as that anticipated change didn’t happen. I started to feel as if a person at my age didn’t have a place or role in the church. I felt myself becoming disconnected and I started to feel the loneliness of the years weigh down on me. I just felt like a lost soul in an old building.

Sometime that year, I stopped going. I’ve only been back a few times since then.

I have tried going with friends to other churches, but I noticed a bitterness and discomfort followed me every time. I became tired of going into a sanctuary without the slightest bit of a welcoming, and it quickly became a dreadful affair. I had endured too many years of trying to find a church family even when my own family wasn’t by my side, and it made me bitter towards the church because I never felt like I got that church family I sought after.

Let me say one thing: I know my story is not all that special or a story that asks for sympathy. It’s just my story. I have had an extremely blessed life and this experience has shaped me in good ways. Everyone has their own difficult church experiences, and for example, I am well aware that growing up as a minister’s kid has its own set of difficult challenges.

So where am I now? I know that Christ died on the cross for me, and I can’t begin to describe my gratefulness for that. But as far as this church experience goes, I don’t know where to begin. What comes first and what follows: getting my spiritual life together or trying to get plugged into a community? I’m seeking community and substance, but it’s as if I’m not applying the right formula to it.

I’m interested to see what other stories get brought to the table this week. Thank you, Kelsy, for being such an inspiration with your transparency and giving me the opportunity to write on this topic.

Read more from Tim on Twitter, where you can harass him about starting his own blog. 

One thought on ““The U-Turn: Why I turn the car around most Sundays” (by Tim Moore)

  1. I like your story. It’s one that’s honest and doesn’t attempt to create a moral out of nothing. It’s open and clear. That’s what matters in having relationship with God. The (Big C) Church is messy, and I think we are all trying to figure out our place (if it exists) in it.

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