When I was 14 I had the privilege of going to a small church plant in my hometown in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. The eight years that I spent there were some of the most formational years of my life. The reputation of this church in the community was really spoken by what they called it, “The Ghetto Church”. Our Church was filled with crack-heads, vice presidents, homeless people, CEO’s, felons and teachers. When I was older I was able to express some of my gifts through the youth group by putting on youth outreach concerts for our youth group. It was filled with staunch Republicans and extreme liberals. It was a great example of what happens when the Church, or at least the Church leadership decides that the mission of the Church exists for the World and to serving each other.
During the ten years since I first started going to that Church, I have also had run in’s with people who have burned me with their “Spiritual Authority”, or groups of peer’s who wouldn’t allow me into fellowship because of my love for broken people, or because my doctrine wasn’t similar to theirs, or I wouldn’t stand for their petty power games. In their defense, my own “rebellion” was probably at times more for my ego than actually against their stances.
I have also been to Churches where I have been deeply disturbed by what they said and what they did. I spent several weeks where the Pastor proclaimed that the Church needed to condemn John Piper because he was a “flaming liberal”. They said Billy Graham was going to hell because of his association with the heretics and outsiders of their faith. So when people tell me why they don’t want to go to or be apart of the Church, I understand it and at times, I am with them. Because, unfortunately I know the pain that Christians can cause. I also see why being apart of Church can actually separate you from God when this community makes you more angry and more detached from the mission God has called us from.
The Church is going through a rapid change and a rapid polarization. My hope is that we can learn to be less and less for our own “Holy Colony” and are willing to accommodate the universal Church. I also don’t want people to lose their own individual identity but not demean the identity of others. The Church in Acts had these problems but were able to allow the Jewish Christians to be Jewish and the Gentile Christians to be Gentiles, but, they served the universal Church and the universal Mission of God. This is Church at its best, when we can keep our own identity, respect others while being in relationship with them and serve the Mission of God for the world.
Why do you go to Church?
Why keeps you from going to Church?
What do you think Church should look like?