Several times over the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve had the same conversation. It starts with someone bringing up something about God. Church. Religion. And each time, the person has said something to the effect of:
“I would NEVER, EVER even think of going to church… if I did, as soon as I walked through the doors I’d probably:
- get ZAPPED by lightning
- burst into flames
- cause the building to fall down around me
- experience something crushing, cruel, & horrible…”
The first couple of times I heard it, I was in Germany; once in downtown Frankfurt, once at the youth hostel where we were having the pastors’ conference. I attributed it to the general state of unchurched-ness of The Fatherland. Silly me.
And then in the last 10 days, I’ve had similar conversations here at home, at Starbucks, the new & improved Great Basin Brewery, & even in the parking lot at church. All people bemoaning the probable (& most certainly horrible) outcome of their crossing the threshold of the church building.
In a couple of the situations, I had the opportunity to pursue some clarification – here’s a ‘sum-up’ of what the people I talked to thought…
- most had funky ideas about God & His character.
- A couple thought that somehow, someway Fred & the family Phelps are accurate representations of God’s heart for people.
- Most expect church to be a place of self-righteous nitpicking, & an endless barrage never-measure-up condemnation & accusations.
- A common thought was seeing self as Excluded. Beyond help or rescue.
- Not seeing how they in their uniqueness could or would fit in a ‘church world’ that is perceived as mostly irrelevant to ‘real’ life.
I don’t know whose quote it is, or how bad I’m mangling it, but it goes something like this:
You may be the only church a person goes to, & may be the only Bible someone reads.
For me, it speaks to the need to live in a way that accurately & faithfully reflects Christ’s love, acceptance, & forgiveness – & a love that meets people right where they are. And it reminds me a bit of a post my friend Tim wrote not long ago about getting the church to people.
TheWeez is on her middle school basketball team; I love going to her games. The last several, her playing time has been next to nil, & she’s discouraged. More than that, she’s frustrated with what her coach says to her (& the 2 other girls in similar spots:)
“I’m really sorry I didn’t play you; but we needed our good players in the game so we could win big, ’cause I really don’t like the Coach from (insert school name here). Next time I’ll try to get you in the game more”
My theWeez is a smart girl – & after this happened the 2nd time (its been 4 games & counting by now,) she vented to me, saying, “Daddy! Does he think I’m DUMB? That I don’t know that when he’s ‘apologizing’ for not playing me he’s really saying I’m not a good PLAYER.”
I’d love to be able to soften the blow to my precious theWeez, to somehow make this situation better… but I can’t. She’s getting a chance to experience, up close & personal, that just because someone is an adult in their 30s, there is no guarantee that they’ve ever really grown up.
I’m sorry my girl.
Oh, & Coach N, theWeez is on to you. And she is not amused.
December, where are you GOING in such a hurry? Stop, sit a spell, & hang out a while.
I’m reading, slowly, through a great book right now by Dallas Willard called, The Spirit of the Disciplines . I know for some that the word ‘discipline’ has negative connotations; I love how Willard works through & around the twistings & perversions of the good word ‘discipline,’ which comes from the root word disciple. In it, he discusses the actions, behaviors, attitudes, & practices that go towards spiritual formation, which to me is something like the nuts & bolts of what it takes to grow up in Christ. I’m already thinking how I can take what I’m learning & apply it, both personally (in my life,) & corporately (within our church family.)
iDoey is in the final week of preparation for his Christmas holiday extravaganza – a song & dance-fest put on by his show-choir-type group called Intermezzo. I’m amazed at the preparation this group of 40 students puts in, & am thankful for the dedicated coordinator & the staff that makes this so much fun for my boy. Thanks Mr. Lorentzen!
Ahh. Pondering greatness: The San Francisco Giants are STILL the World Series Champions.