Monday, January 14, 2008

Me, A Church Lady? How the Hell Did That Happen?

I found this over on Jim Palmers blog featuring the journey of Anne. Now this IS doing church friends. I am continuing on this journey with God, learning that church is not a program, or a list of do's and don'ts. It is simply about loving God and loving others. Read the post here.

I’ve done things a little backwards compared to others. I became a Christian in my 30s, converted to Catholicism, then wandered away, explored Buddhism, and spent two years studying in a new age center, where I eventually realized I missed Jesus. I didn’t truly become part of a church community until I was 50 years old, so my experience and opinion of church might differ a bit than others. This is what I’ve discovered:

There are churches with strange names. Like Threads.

People in church dress in shorts and blue jeans and have tattoos and piercings.

Rock bands play worship music, which sometimes includes tunes by Pink Floyd or The Who. Church music also includes Gregorian Chant and Native American flute compositions. Sometimes you sit in silent meditation or practice Lectio Divina.

You break into small groups during the spiritual talk and discuss things with people you met just seconds ago.

Multisensory elements are part of the worship gathering and could include chair races, Let’s Make a Deal game shows, tying strings around each others’ wrists, journaling on a prayer wall, or having someone tattooed during the spiritual talk. An art gallery is part of the sanctuary.

Lee, the pastor, makes a point each week of welcoming visitors who might not believe in God but are just there to ask questions. Church is for asking questions.

Lee, the pastor, likes people to just call him Lee.

In church there are middle-class married professionals with families. In church there are ex-heroin addicts, former alcoholics, ex-porn addicts, former abusers, those formerly abused, and physically and mentally impaired people.

There are no programs, no men’s ministry, no women’s ministry, no youth services, no single’s groups. Your pastor believes in people saying no to doing too much so they don’t burn out in church ministry.

There are people who meet in community groups all thrown together regardless of age, gender or marital status. Not all the people leading groups or in groups are Christ followers. Some are skeptics with lots of questions. (Church and community groups are for asking questions.)

You don’t know who your pastor votes for because you don’t talk about politics in church. In church there are very conservative Republicans and very liberal Democrats.

You don’t use Christianese words because you exist for the unchurched and some words might make others feel excluded.

The pastor is humble and full of love for God and people, and with his words draws people into a deeper encounter with the love of Christ. The elders ask who would miss our church if it disappeared tomorrow, and that leads them to meet with the mayor to find out where we are needed in our community.

There are no church gatherings one Sunday so you can take busses to one of the rougher parts of town to do energy audits so people can receive new insulated windows through a grant.

No offerings are taken, there’s just a giving box at the back of church.

Church friends don’t think it’s odd if you have friends that are atheists, Buddhists or gay.

You learn that the heart of a church is serving others instead of coming to be served.

At Christmas you decide to “worship more, spend less, give more and love all” and raise enough money to build several wells for villages in Africa.

You find out church is not a building, but people with a deep love for God who want to live life in community with each other and love and serve others.

You discover (I discover) that this spiritual community is family, and you are home.


Blogger Crusader said...

Good word!

RageFest is gonna rock!

4:01 PM  
Blogger friend said...

I like the part about the Pastors (leaders) not being all talky about politics.... ;)

8:09 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

But on my blog, I can talk about whatever I want because it is my opinion and not the church's opinion. ;-)

Love ya man!

5:50 AM  

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