Monday, June 24, 2013

The Curse of the Church

I read an article this morning that got me thinking.

It didn't really say something that I haven't thought about before or even complained about before.

First go read here:

Why Christian Fiction Writers CAN'T Cross Over to the General Market

Then come back and see if you follow my train of thought.

This article clearly states the curse of the modern church.  

Maybe it is my age/stage that leaves me thinking all this and later I will change my ideas, who knows. Right now, though, this is what I think.

Our big modern churches are super inclusive and leave us living in a Christian bubble. 

Now, before you think I'm just speaking out of nowhere, I lived in the bubble for a long time, and it was good. Those were some great years in my life, much needed for the stage I was in.

I think though, if we aren't careful, we let ourselves get caught in that stage and never move on from it. It becomes comfortable and safe and easy. The world outside becomes scary and ugly.

We have let and even encouraged our churches to become the center of our worlds. It's where we do summer camp, Bible study, small groups for every affinity and life stage under the sun. We have prescribed serving of the community in an insulated way. We make mission trips and bring in "our" rock stars. We hold conferences and dessert nights and family fun fests. We make our own sports teams and birth our own coffee shops and bookstores and so on. We make our lists of all the "safe" businesses to "support".

It goes on and on and on.

Our church becomes our world. 

But I think we are supposed to be the church out in the world.

When our church is our world, we lose our ability to do just that.

When our church is our world we only know how to speak and behave church style. We only know how to interact with our church people who look like us, think like us, behave like us, believe like us.

The world becomes a frightening place full of evil and schemes and foul language and fear. 

I spent many years in a church bubble.  They were some of the very best years ever. I was literally at my church almost daily participating in something. I attended different groups for different stages of my life, a mommy group, a Bible study focused on my age/stage, attending meetings, volunteering for this thing or another. I was there, daily.

My friends, my peers, my mentors and supports, my acquaintances, everyone in my world, with the exception of a very few people, came from my church. 

I was in my bubble. The church bubble.

In a way, it was good, significant, needed.  I was a brand new Christian and knew next to nothing about being a Christian. I had not yet read through the Bible to know anything for myself. I was in a rocky, nasty, needy place in my life and I'm not going to lie, the church offered up plenty of positive support and role models. I needed all of that plus the safe little cocoon that the church was. 

The good news for me, about this particular church was that along with providing me a bubble to be safe in, learn how to be a Christian in and surround myself with new good friends and such, it taught me to think. This was a thinkers church. We were pushed and challenged to think and grow.

When life took it's turns and it was time for us to leave that city and move to a new one, we left the bubble.

For a long time it was painful and strange, but on the other hand, it was refreshing and a relief. 

The longer I was out of the bubble, the more I learned what the Bible really said. 

I learned I was missing out by living in the bubble.

But living out of the bubble flies in the face of what the church pushes these days and that leaves me in a place of being in a way, churchless. 

We keep trying churches and walking away thinking, they don't fit, they don't support us. We are broken for the mold. 

My ideal church wish list, would be one that teaches the Bible for the thinking person; give us some credit after all, we are smarter than we seem. We are more capable of thought than you would believe. I want a church that doesn't subtly and smugly judge my off beat, hodge-podge, not so average family but instead accepts that my family is in fact what I believe my God has called me to be doing as my everyday mission. Recognize that a mission doesn't have to mean leaving the country, it can mean something so simple as serving--truly with heart and not show or program--those around you with simple needs. Don't be about buildings and programs and extras. Be authentic. Be real. Don't be critical and shaming when we make it there only one service a month or fail to allocate our dollars to you because we spent our time out in our community or our dollars on whatever other thing God pushed us to give to. 

I could go on and on, but a wish list is just that, a wish. 

We will float around from church to church and have some of our needs met and some ignored and sometimes we will even be pushed out in a way. We will live in the world. We will have relationships with people outside the bubble. We will serve in our own gritty way. We will hope that what we know and learn of our Bible, or God, we will be able to share and give out in the world.

Maybe my real wish is for a new kind of church. A church that teaches to a thinking, living Christian. A church that isn't all inclusive like a vacation destination, but one that supports a body of people living outside of the bubble getting messy and dirty and scraped by life. One that supports the new-old style Christian that is living in the world and being the salt we are meant to be. A church that wants to and is able to cope with a body of people that don't speak the church speak language and demand new and better programs to reach the unreached but instead believes in a God that will work through His believers and reach all those around them simply by the way they live their lives. 

Maybe I wish for all of us to get further and further out of our bubbles...

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