I miss the simpler days of my childhood, including aspects of the church I grew up in! The same church that when Googled mentions states it is labeled by some as a cult (the extreme legalism and exclusivity of the church drove many away). I remember there being so many rules…
No worries, my dear friends and famliy, I’m not about to go join a cult. And I know for some, the word cult brings to mind very horrific stories. But that’s not my definition of it. In fact for a child, my “cult” was quite pleasant. And as an adult, I wish the same camaraderie existed.
These are just a few of my favorite moments from church growing up:
We had dances for everything! Weddings, of course, but dances for the youth groups, dances during church events, dances for the families. So many dances, but they were so fun! We played silly games, we ate food, we talked and we enjoyed hanging out together.
I often try to find ways to teach my girls the stories from the Bible, but I struggle with how much to tell them of some stories. What’s important for their age to learn about? When I went to church, we had a weekly lesson that came in the mail, we read it, colored it, learned the memory verse, and went to church and discussed it in class. I’d love to get my hands on some of those age-appropriate materials!
Every event had a potluck – family movie night, bible studies, special church nights… If two or more families gathered, there was a potluck. The food was always great and there was almost always something sweet.
Summer picnics, ice skating, horseback riding, game night, movie night, museum visits, La Comedia trips, etc. We spent so much time at family events. Hanging out with friends that I didn’t get to see often because we went to different schools was always something I looked forward to. Every year we had a summer picnic. There was, of course, a potluck, games, a swimming pool, hiking in the woods, and blankets spread out with babies rolling all over them. We had free reign of the place to explore and play as much as we wanted.
Because the church we went to didn’t allow for participation in events on a Saturday, we had our own sports teams. I did many years of cheerleading and volleyball. It was a lot of work. The older girls worked really hard and were great at what they did. I learned so much about the sport of basketball by cheering for the game for years. Every Sunday during the season, we’d travel all over Dayton/Cincinnati to go to games. It would require us to get up at 6 a.m. and hit the road before the sun came up. We’d spend the entire day at gyms, taking turns playing or cheering. Hours spent in the bleachers with your best friends, just hanging out.
Our church was both small and very large. Our family went to the afternoon service in our area, which was, at most, a couple hundred people. Everybody knew everybody. Our small local area was just one of hundreds across the country – so overall, the church was quite large. In our own group, we were so close it was truly like family. As a preteen/young teen, I loved helping the moms with their little ones (I had my favorites of course!). At every church service or event, I’d seek them out, take the little ones for walks or to play while the adults chatted with each other. But our church family really looked out for each other.
For a time, my mom was single. Getting a teenage daughter to events and games with other little ones at home was not easy. So many of my friends’ families let me spend the weekend with them so I could attend the events that would have otherwise been impossible. Also, at the summer picnic each year, there was a clothing exchange and I always thought it was so neat. Everyone brought in clothes they didn’t need and then you “shopped” from what was donated for items your family needed. Everyone was taken care of this way.
There were a lot of things wrong with the church, a lot of red flags I wished I’d understood sooner. And I understand all of these things are available in some capacity or another from school or other local (non-cult-like) churches, but nothing has come close to comparing to the close-knit community of the church I grew up in. I’m thankful we saw the bigger picture and left when we did. I’m thankful I no longer attend a church with so many rules and made-up doctrines.
But every once and a while, I wish I could go back to the simpler days, take my kids to a dance and just sit back and enjoy some fellowship.