Enough already! Many of us have confusion, misgivings, sorrows and anger about Christian churches and Christianity itself and what has become of it. I get it.
Encountering pastors who believe they have all the answers; entering or hearing about a church that shames and blames people into submission and confession; doctrines, creeds and mission statements that assume their way is the only (or at least the “right”) way, and so on, is a turn-off to many. A national, denominational devotional I read this morning affirmed this when it proclaimed, “It is no accident that those who are certain of their religious convictions are always the first to bless our world’s wars.”
However, the daily devotional continued,“the world needs a church… humble enough to say ‘we don’t quite know what we’re talking about.’” That’s what “the world” needs? Really? This “devotional” is not the words of a religious fanatic. I have nothing against him. The author appears knowledgeable, experienced and kind. I am certain his words are soothing music to someone’s ears.
But not mine.
I simply wonder how effective a proclamation and witness to “the world” this will be for the un-or-formerly-churched who we may desire to reach. I am an ordained minister and pastor within the Christian tradition; but about 80% of the people in my life and work do not go to church. Despite that, they appear to have a spiritual itch the world can’t scratch, and a thirst it cannot quench. They come to church, often, out of a sense of brokenness and need; seeking health, wholeness and reconciliation.Rather than declaring that we don’t quite know what we are talking about (which is a perception that is already shared by much of the world) ~ perhaps we might consider presenting ourselves as a respite, a way-station that offers a healing balm in Gilead, or Cleveland or Des Moines and Syracuse or Dallas or Denver or…
Perhaps we could benefit greatly by getting back to basics and focusing a bit more on being the church built on the foundation of Jesus’ love, hope, justice and forgiveness with a little Matthew 25 thrown in for good measure. The church has a lot to offer. Not all absolute conviction is tyrannical; and not all uncertainty is inviting. On Christ the solid rock, I stand. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Dwight Lee Wolter is the author of many books and pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He blogs at dwightleewolter.com
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