Here are the pertinent "facts" about her:
- she's 27
- she graduated with a BBA from a local state university, in 2008
- she hit the job market right when things went KABLOOEY! She could not find a job in her chosen field, so today she works as a full-time server at a semi-upscale restaurant in a "cool" part of town, and she works part-time in a bakery
- she is not married, but she does live with a significant other
Here's the really important stuff: she grew up in a Christian family who were ardent church-goers. She "got saved" when she was 7; went through a "rebellious" stage as an early teen; came back to church with an "exploratory" faith when she was 19...and left again - this time "for good" (she says) - six years later, when she was 25.
"Why did you leave?" I asked her.
It was horrible, she said. I actually visited several churches - from the "charismatic" church that my parents attended to a very liberal UCC (United Church of Christ) church in town. The charismatic and evangelical churches were all about "defending marriage from the gays", and the UCC - which openly embraced gay people - was so boring due to hyper-liturgical services and sermons that were just bad. There was no in-between. Plus...I was searching in my faith, searching how to believe, what to believe. There was no place I found that welcomed true searchers. You had to search in ways that they endorsed.
Here are five things we "distilled" together from her sometimes rambling screed against church and Christian religion (BTW - as a "seeker" she was better-read in current theology and biblical exegesis than many pastors I have known).
1. They don't care about me or what I believe...they want me to believe what THEY believe.
2. Any variation from the established doctrine, style or "norm" is greeted with suspicion at best.
3. In both liberal and conservative churches, the "enemy" was clearly defined...it was not the devil, it was people who did not believe as they believed. This was repugnant to me.
4. There were very few people my age in the churches I attended, and two of those churches had more than 500 people in attendance. I just did not connect.
5. Honestly...the sermons were horrible. Every church I attended focused on the preaching of the preacher...whoever he (or she in one church) was. And they were all irrelevant, boring and almost embarrassing.
One more thing she added - many people greeted her on her church visits, but she never felt genuine interest or connection. "They were predators, I was prey."
Her conclusion: I have more friends on facebook than any church I attended has members. I go out with friends 3 or 4 times a week, and friends visit me at home at twice a week. I help a friend do a garden; I help a friend with childcare. When I was sick recently...I had tons of people bring me food, visit, call, check in with me.
Seriously...why in the world would I want to go to church, or embrace a religion that says "you must believe what we say, or else go to hell." Don't want it, don't need it...ain't nobody got time for that."