I’m in between churches.
Moving from New Jersey back to New York mid-pandemic meant that I had to find a new home church in my new location, and I’m still looking. An Uber driver was playing the latest gospel one time and I struck up a conversation, so after a while she invited me to her diverse, eclectic church. I had grown up in one of those stuffy Christian households with a stepdad who was a rolling stone when it came to spiritual home bases, so I had seen my fair share of congregations, but thus far my search had brought me to strangely cult-like places that I technically knew existed but had never experienced in real life.
The first church was medium-sized, had its main location in Nigeria and made everybody hold hands while singing their anthem-esque song about unity and love. A couple things struck me as odd, like their enthusiasm for “honoring” the head pastor, or their emphasis on the blessings that come from tithing, but the last straw was when the pastor mocked the use of masks under the implication that Christians didn’t need them.
The second church was actually worse. It was small and brightly decorated, the Pastor was a black woman whose entire sermon was a dramatic reading of some Wikipedia-lifted research on the human skeletal system, which she was apparently tying in to a theme of “dry bones coming alive.” At intervals she would break into tongues, or jump around while two people held her back, or charge into the little audience laying hands at random. Needless to say, I visited those churches once, and left understanding why there are so many skewed perceptions of Christianity.
But finally, with my Uber driver’s church, I felt like there was a big contender. They had an in-person gathering on Fridays at a Manhattan location which didn’t go past an hour and some change. There were well-enforced restrictions in place, like mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and completing a health questionnaire before each visit. There were tons of young people there, the worship was great, the pastor was very likeable and cool, a white guy from Australia. Going in, I knew I would have to adjust to having a white Pastor in a racially tense climate. I suppose America has always been racially tense. But for me, the mass protests of 2020, followed by the ridiculous Capitol…