I guess sooner or later you’ll discover that you can pigeonhole me as a “Christian.” I struggle with you knowing this, because I’m afraid you’ll judge me as out of touch, religious and boring.
Maybe I am.
The truth is I’m not happy sitting in Church. Part of me desperately wants to fit in, please the others and go along with the crowd. But I can’t. I see horrific financial waste, where money given weekly is largely spent on a massive mortgage for an out-of-date building the now shrinking congregation can’t afford. I see people being paid as ministers, and I can’t help but feel their 9 to 5 week would be better spent working out in the world, connecting with the so-called “lost”, rather than patting the hands of the spiritually immature who refuse to grow up. I see the lyrics of worship songs projected up on the big screen, and I wonder if anyone else can see that we’ve swallowed the “i-culture” of our day, and are bopping along worshiping ourselves rather than outpouring our adoration and reverence to God in song. Ideally, I’m supposed to be in a Bible Study group to grow spiritually, most of which (more often that not) follow some sort of programmed material. I’d much rather use this time to get to know about what’s going on in the lives of the people I’m there to support. To use that time to build relationships and give them courage to press on with their spiritual journey, as they live out a life of worshipful service to Jesus. I’d love to see my brothers and sisters as agents of social change, advocating for justice, out in the world actually reaching the people Jesus told us to love – rather paying someone else to do it, or worse, sitting in judgement sneering down their noses at those sinful “heathens.” Ugh. The use of that label sickens me.
So what now then? Do I still go to Church? Yes, I do. Until there is an alternative, I’ll be sitting there. Praying. Hoping. For more like-minded people who sit on the edges of Church culture to find each other, to ask intelligent questions and to fumble forward as we try together to grasp how to live the revolutionary, counter-cultural lifestyle modeled by our gracious Jesus.
As it happens, God has drawn a little group of us together already. Tonight we start a Book Club. No edgy name. No misspelling in the title. Just a plain old Book Club. We’re going to eat a lovely meal, and we’ll chat about this month’s book “Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality” by Donald Miller. We’re going to talk about what in the book inspired us, what challenged us and what we disagreed with. No judgement, just listening to one another and questioning to promote deeper reflection. And hopefully spiritual growth.
My dream is that others who are disconnected from today’s Church might find their way to a place where their dissent is understood, and that they feel affirmed that their relationship with God is one that is valuable and real.
I’ll let you know how it goes.