I am no longer needed.
When I first came to Bethel, I was expecting the leaders to rush up to me and my husband, begging us to lead or volunteer for something. It was nice when that didn’t happen, until I remembered that serving was my go-to way of meeting and connecting with people. I realized very quickly that I would need to make friends the old fashioned way: by getting to know them and making myself known! No longer could I depend on serving or being a part of some leadership team to feel like I belong. Now I actually had to develop healthy relationships built on a foundation of knowing and being known. Darn it! That’s hard work!
There’s an uncomfortable amount of freedom.
Don’t get me wrong! I love freedom, but things can get really weird when people start expressing themselves in ways I’m not comfortable with. What do they expect me to do? Accept their weirdness? And then when someone is caught sinning, there’s no punishment—not even a public reprimand! They just do some counseling, make sure the person gets to the root of the issue, and create a support system around this person. Wow. Seems a little too “loving” to me.
People are way too passionate (emotional?) about Jesus.
During worship, everyone has their hands raised and sings their hearts out. Some people are even dancing! Don’t they understand this makes some people feel uncomfortable or even pressured? Perhaps they should have “special” services for the more emotional-type people. Reserve those ostentatious acts for a mid-week evening service so the rest of us can feel better in our passionless displays of worship to Jesus.
They set the bar way too high.
When I went from my small church of 500-ish people to Bethel (where close to 10,000 people call it their home church), I wasn’t prepared for the feelings of inadequacy I would start to feel when surrounded by such passionate and mature believers. Every time I attend a service, I’m surrounded by accomplished writers, business owners, entrepreneurs, artists, pastors, evangelists, teachers, and musicians from all around the world. And they’re all just so dang loving and encouraging! I wish they would understand how insecure this makes me feel. I mean, if they just simmered down a bit and stopped being so amazing and successful, maybe I’d feel better about my lack of accomplishments.
They put way too much emphasis on authenticity.
I mean, really, how authentic are we expected to be? You don’t want to see all my crap, really. If you only saw what’s really deep down inside, you would probably reject me. But, wait! You’re going to be honest with your sins, mistakes, and failings? Eek! That makes me really uncomfortable because now I feel like you expect me to share too! Yup! Back to that “too much freedom” thing. Uh uh. Way too uncomfortable.
The children’s pastors are way too engaged.
The way the children’s pastors interact with my kids and see the gold inside them makes me feel like a failure as a mom. After church, my kids are always in such a good mood, feeling so loved and accepted. They talk about all the fun things they did and the songs they learned. Well, Bethel! You’ve set the bar too high again! I just can’t compete with that!
As you probably already guessed, I’m being sarcastic. I love my church. There are so many amazing, loving, encouraging, and supportive people here. Yes, it has been very uncomfortable in many ways, but it’s only because God has been stretching and growing me in new ways. The environment of love, acceptance, and freedom here at Bethel has made it possible for me to grow and mature in my relationship with God.
If you want to learn more about Bethel culture, here are some books I recommend:
Danny Silk’s “Culture of Honor”
Danny Silk’s “Keep Your Love On”
Kris Vallotton’s “Supernatural Ways of Royalty”
Bill Johnson’s “Dreaming with God”
Kris Vallotton’s “How Heaven Invades Earth”
Bill Johnson’s “God is Good”
I really appreciate your feedback! Tell me what stuck out to you in this blog. Have you experienced similar things at your church? Comment below!