I was raised to believe in the mission and vision of the Baptist church and not necessarily being connected to God. How is that possible you ask? Well, being a member of my childhood church consisted of abiding by rules that I believe no human could execute perfectly. The pastor would preach hate and judgmental speeches and then state "God told me to tell you...." I'm sure his life is not perfect, but the speeches had left some of his members feeling like God and others feeling like Satan. Meanwhile my conscience was saying "Whatever God told you about me, I'm sure it's not meant to humiliate or degrade me". I remember when my mother consoled a homeless family after a minister humiliated this woman because she couldn't afford to dress in "church clothes". I believe this situation helped become "a doer and less of a sayer". My mother and I didn't have much either, but we were able to bless this woman without anyone knowing. Meanwhile the minister had more to bless this woman with and chose not to. I do understand that the church is not about the people, but how do we expect to save souls when the people inside of the church need the most saving?
My mother and I would ride the bus to church three to four times a week for bible study, choir practice, and service. She would put 150 dollars in the collection plate every paycheck. Meanwhile our refrigerator had an echo.
I believe in giving wholeheartedly without expecting anything back, and that's my issue with tithes and offering. I rather feed a family, give money to the homeless or help a friend whether emotionally or financially because I understand what its like to feel like an underdog in society. I've never read a scripture where God took from the poor. If you find it let me know, seriously! I cannot take away the success from pastors who drive Benz's or million dollar homes, but success is nothing if were not helping others reach the same height. Some pastors are doing their calling and doing wonderful deeds in their community, but most don't. Being religious has become a trend and not a asset to God's people.
I admired my mother for her commitment and faith in what seemed impossible because it has made me who I am today. However, I believed my mother used the church to hide certain deeply rooted issues. I couldn't understand my mothers faith, but I believe it was more based off man's word and less on God's word. Don't get me wrong, the church is a way for social and emotional growth, but I don't think it has been pivotal in the way it was in the bible. When I was thirteen years old, I counted six churches along my street in the Deadwood community. Meanwhile, one out the six churches outreached in the community where there were at least five neighbor(hoods) and three gangs in the area. The church is not responsible for everything that's wrong with the world, but when we are silent when destruction is happening, we become apart of the problem. When we only speak out when a law is passed on gay rights, but not on the current education system, there is a problem!
Recently (2 years ago) I decided to focus on spirituality and not the place where I worshiped. When my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia it changed my perspective on religion. The people who supported me was my family and friends or strangers who were atheists. Yes atheists! I realized despite our differences in beliefs, these people who would be considered "outcast" were the only ones who encouraged and financially and emotionally supported me. We are all imperfect, I'm starting to really get that and understand it! However, we should not get to a point were we are focused on the place in which we develop our praise. The Art of spirituality vs being religious is understanding the difference and examining which category you subjected yourself to.