Yesterday I was reading one of my favorite blog writers and came across something that really struck home with me. Jenny from Steeples and People was describing why she was no longer wanting to attend her small group. Here’s what she wrote:
But I guess I’m just tired of spending two hours a week being one of two badasses in the group, trying to push boundaries and bring up new ideas and ways of looking at things that don’t involve the usual Christian platitudes and Sunday-School answers. I’m not interested in dealing with a group where thought-provoking discussions are shut down.
And for me that’s the crux of it. It seems that in the churches I attended over the past several years, as progressive as they were or thought they were, pushing the boundaries or challenging the status quo wasn’t allowed. In these particular churches, the ones that felt they were in fact challenging the old ways, new ideas were often shut down. Christian platitudes and Sunday-school answers became a way for all of us to communicate each weekend. Often they were couched in “cool” terminology or venacular (skateboards, soul patches and tattoos included), but they still were the same old ways of doing things with window dressing applied.
As in most social organizations, even progressive churches fall quickly into a pattern of embracing the “path of least resistance”. Whether it pertains to church structure, order of services, styles of worship, church practices, policies, or theological principles – it doesn’t seem to matter. Pastors and church leaders like things the way they are… and apparently so do the attendees. All churches eventually settle into a rut and where I am from the definition of a rut is “a grave with both ends kicked out”. What used to be “revolutionary or cutting-edge” becomes “stale and common-place”.
And why is this you ask? Because of what Jenny says… churches aren’t willing to push the boundaries or embrace new ideas. My experience (broad but of course limited) has shown me that most churches start with a flurry of vision and flounder into myopia.
A few examples of how churches refuse to “push the boundaries” (with details to follow in another post):
1) Lack of women in ministry.
2) Worship music is overemphasized.
3) Messages are too long and not interactive.
4) Church structure is
I think I am ok with that now. Honestly, I guess it doesn’t matter if I am ok with it, but it matters to me that I am ok with it. Know what I mean? I used to get really unnerved that people were going to church and just didn’t seem to “get it” like I “got it”…. whatever “it” may be at the time. But I had some experiences a couple of weeks ago that changed all that for me… a sort of epiphany or two that I will share at some point I am sure. But for now, whether you go to church or not, or are a pastor or not, or an evangelist or not, use super-scriptural-spouter language or not… I am ok wth you. And if you don’t go to church anymore, drink lots of beer, cuss, gamble or root for the Eagles (sorry inside joke)… I am ok with you too. Or if you are a combination of any of the above, I am ok with you also.
But let’s say you are a combination of the two, go to a church with really cool music, have an awesome pastor that speaks amazing messages each week and have one heck of a children’s ministry… it still doesn’t mean I am coming to your church. That doesn’t make me wrong or you right or vice-versa. It just makes me, me… and you, you.
I guess we will just have to live with that for now.