By Isabel Hamburger |
As a student at Baylor University, I feel like I’m the odd one out when I say that I don’t go to church. I’ve been to church in Waco a total of three times and I found myself uncomfortable each time. I don’t raise my hands in praise, I don’t know the passages that everyone else seems to have memorized, and I don’t know any of the worship songs.
I don’t attend Vertical on Monday nights like what seems like a majority of other students do. I went once and mostly just felt incredibly self-aware of how awkwardly I stood there while everyone else was belting out the words to all the songs.
I struggled in my Christian scriptures class freshman year. Our professor would skip over certain stories from the bible in class saying, “we don’t need to go over this story, everyone learned this one in Sunday school.” But I didn’t. I was embarrassed to ask anyone to help me study for fear of being judged over not knowing the details of the most basic stories.
I have a Bible on a shelf in my room that I bought when I moved into my dorm freshman year, scared that I would be judged for not having one. I’ve never opened it.
But even though I don’t do any of these things, I still consider myself a good Christian.
To me, religion is an incredibly personal experience. I may not know all the stories in the Bible, but I know my God. I know that he is always with me no matter how many Bible verses I highlight or memorize. He doesn’t care how often I go to church, only how often I speak to him.
I find that personal prayer is more helpful to me than attending church is. I want a true connection with God, and it feels less personal when it is done through other people. Most of the time, I can’t relate much to the prayers that the pastor says during the service, and it would be easier for me to just say a prayer myself. I also often find that churches try to teach too much about social issues instead of just being a place to worship and talk to God.
Personally, I don’t think church is necessary to be a good Christian. Yes, it’s a great way to strengthen your knowledge and connect with people who hold the same beliefs and values as you, but I already feel as though I do both of those things by attending Baylor. And although churches are formed with good intentions, I often find that they are deeply flawed. The people who need church the most are often turned away and judged. Churchgoers can be so quick to boast about their good deeds to gain admiration and prove they are good Christians, and this goes against everything it means to be a true Christian.
I think the only thing that matters to be a good Christian is that you believe that Jesus Christ is our savior. I don’t think your status as a good Christian is dependent on what church you attend, or even if you attend one at all. It doesn’t depend on how many mission trips you’ve gone on or how many summers you’ve spent as a camp counselor. Now don’t get me wrong, these are all amazing things that can aid in spiritual growth, of course, but they are not the be all and end all of Christianity.
I may not a “good” Christian, but I am a believer, and that is enough for me and my God.