For anyone who hasn’t been following along, I just want to give a quick recap to hopefully explain what my last few posts about going to church have been about.
I became a Christian back in the summer of 2000. It was at a camp. After I made the decision to give my life to Christ (at 15 years old) I started getting involved at a church that friends of mine attended. Most of them attended with their families and had done so their entire lives. As I joined the party late I believed I had a lot of catching up to do. So, I read, studied, and absorbed as much as possible. A lot of what I learned was good, wholesome stuff. However, I also found myself slipping into what I’ll call the holy sub-culture. You know them as the “Bible-thumpers,” the Religious Right, or the Conservative Evangelicals. It is this sub-culture that was so cleverly portrayed by the movie Saved.
I really grew to love the church, not just for the community that it brought and the growth that it caused in me, but also because of its mission: to be a representation of Jesus to the world. I loved the church, collectively, was the vehicle that God chose to show the world he loved it.
Fast-forward a few years and I found myself working at a church, whose mission aligned so perfectly with what I saw as the vision of the global or Catholic Church (Catholic in this sense is defined as Universal, and encompasses the entire church, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Invisible, etc). While working there, I got to work with incredible leaders here, learn from incredible leaders abroad, and really feel a part of a true “Catholic” Church.
As I left the church I was working and shortly afterwards the church in general, I began a weaning process. In the process of following the mission and vision of the church, I had also become addicted to the sub-culture. I had become comfortable with the language, with the expectations, with the traditions (yes, even “non-traditional” churches have their traditions), with the safety that the church brings.
In my mind, these comforts are not what Jesus had in mind when he instructed the disciples. He didn’t imagine multi-million dollar buildings. He didn’t envision celebrity pastors and rockstar worship leaders. He didn’t see Christian bookstores and a Christian music industry. He didn’t see Christian conferences, Christian retreats, Christian cruise ships. These weren’t part of his vision of the church. They are part of our vision for the church.
I’m not necessarily saying that our vision of the church is wrong. I’m not even trying to say we missed the point. Jesus gave us the authority to be the church, to really take ownership of it, to make of it what we wanted. He didn’t give us the floor plans, he just gave us a seed. What I am saying is that unfortunately, many people have fallen in love with our vision of church, with its grandeur and comfortability. I’m one of those people.
That is why I hesitate about tomorrow. I fear that my love will be with my/our vision of the church, rather than for Jesus’ vision of the church. I worry that my passion will be for the comfort, the flashiness, the grandeur rather than for the vision of serving the poor, for housing the homeless, for being a light. I guess I fear that I’ll just fall back into old, comfortable patterns.