A Church Rant

So, elephant in the room: I’ve been MIA from blogging for a while. I probably should have warned my few readers that I would be doing so somewhere around the beginning of June. I have been taking three classes through SAGU and UAA over the summer, working, being in a wedding (way to go, Perrys! [Perries?]), being a counselor for Royal Family Kids Camp, going to Oklahoma City for work (where, by the way, I found an AWESOME coffee shop). All that to say, sorry I’ve been gone. I really have been wanting to jump back into blogging, but I simply haven’t had the time. Or something to write about, to be honest.

I do have something now, though, I think.

I want to write about Church.

It seems like everyone is either writing or talking about church these days. Take Rachel Held Evans, for example, in her candid post about Sunday Mornings. That post was something I related to on so many levels, especially in the past year.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I have begun to relate to those who have decided to leave the Church altogether. Perhaps I should say that I strongly empathize with those who want to leave institutionalized Christianity. I very much believe in the Church and what it can be. I believe the Church can be a catalyst for change in the world, and an authentic community of people. The Church can be the place where people can encounter the truly divine, both in the form of utter transcendence (real encounters with God) and complete immanence (real, loving, non-judgmental encounters with people).

The problem isn’t that most people I talk to about this would disagree with me. In fact, most of the (individual) Christians I know want to see those exact same things in a community of people that they meet with and share life together with regularly.

The problem is that nothing is being done about it. I’m sure there are lots of well-meaning Christians out there, diligently going to Sunday morning services every week because they would feel guilty if they didn’t do so. They may get “their fill” of worship time and some (hopefully) decent biblical teaching. But then the hour-and-a-half service ends, they shake a couple of hands, and they go about their merry way.

I know, because I’ve been there.

I know, because that’s what my family and I have done for the past year.

We didn’t feel like we belonged, we didn’t feel connected, and we didn’t feel like we were a part of a community that wanted to truly share life together.* Instead, we were going through the motions.

When Elaine and I figured this out a couple of months ago, we basically decided to stop the play-acting. We knew what was going on, and we figured if our home church wasn’t providing what we felt like a church community should, then we ought not to go. (Not to mention the fact that the summer provided a good way to avoid making the decision anyway, given the several activities we had going on.)

I’m not saying I have the answer. I really wish I could say that. I have lots of ideas about how I think the Church should function. I just don’t want to be the guy that thinks he knows a better way, just to simply plant another church and become a part of the system I so desperately want to see transformed. I just don’t know that I see any other way to do it.

So what do you think? Does transforming the Church mean getting rid of institutionalized Christianity entirely? Does it mean planting new church communities with (hopefully) different values? Do you think anything needs to be done at all?

*I should say that I absolutely do not begrudge my previous church that I attended in ANY WAY. I loved what Creekwood Church did for my family, and I would not change the fact that we were a part of that community for the few years that we were.


Kat says:

Knowing your biblical scholarly background – I would like to know where you think the church began and for what purpose – and if you think modern day church services live up to that biblical purpose. Looking for “authentic people” and a “catalyst for change” is something that could be found in a school cafeteria or on a subway, so I think your criteria are a little vague. The temple in the old testament served a purpose – but even people back then screwed it up. Then there was the new church with Christ as the head. Of course we’re probably screwing it up again (we’re good at that) – but is there a way out or are we just fatally flawed in that regard?

Perhaps I should have clarified that it can’t just be people desiring change and community, because that can be found in civil groups around the nation and world. Our distinguishing factor must be Christ as Lord over what we do. Our goal (piggy-backing off of the “catalyst for change” note) should be to bring about the Kingdom of God to and in the world. Not in a rule-with-an-iron-fist sort of way, but in a subversive, sacrificial sort of way. The way Jesus brings about the Kingdom by serving and giving.

As far as whether we can actually “make it,” I can’t say I’m sure of that either. But I do know that if we see something fundamentally wrong with the way the Church is working, it is our job to attempt change. Again, what that looks like, I’m not sure.

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