About Me

Subscribe now!Feeds RSS


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Off Broadway: Church/Community


While in NYC, Taryn and I attended Trinity Grace Church (formerly Origins). We went to Sunday services, did our best to attend a small group, and formed relationships with many there.

During our first few weeks there I had all kinds of nit-picky comments. The music was not very good. The crowd too churchy. The pastor long winded. I even critiqued the bulletin design. Wow.

As a former church programmer and seminary trained twenty-five year old, church condescension comes easy. And what’s up with all of my nit-picking? Is it just the evil soil of our consumerist culture? I don’t think so. I think I had a misguided idea of what church (and for those who aren’t followers of Christ, perhaps the word “community” can act as a substitute) is. I am not sure that I had a good definition (which could have been the result of two years of church shopping in Seattle) or even a definition at all. But I was living as though I thought community was supposed to be like-minded individuals seeking a common way of living while going after a common, agreed upon mission.

It may be fear or loneliness that motivates us to search for others who look like us. Now, I am not denying what seems to be natural attraction to persons with common interests and passions. My worry is that we have come to prefer not those with similarities, but our mirror images. All of us come in contact with difference. But when faced with the foreign feeling difference brings, we search for something more familiar. More us. We shop for the familiar constantly. We leave churches in search of a pastor we better agree with. We choose our friends based on the quantities of conflict. We pick our neighborhoods based on the color of our neighbor’s skin. We even pick grocery stores that are more “us”. We insulate ourselves with walls of “us”.

Church is not intended to be this ideological back scratching. It is not to be a place where you will enjoy everyone’s company. Everyone should not look like you. There should be a diversity of age, race, thought, and lifestyle. Church is the gathering of people around the story of Jesus. God crucified. Life lived in this posture of His sacrifice. And yet we often miss that as we drive 45 minutes for a church that has worship music more our style.

This is dangerous. Sorry, that is understated. This will ruin us.

We have unrealistic expectations for our churches. We expect to find life long friends, top 40 tunes, and Shakespearian preaching. Under one roof. Without hardship. Without gossip. Without power struggles. All while searching for communities, friends, and maybe even partners that uphold the fantasies of our goodness.

We were guilty of this.

There is beauty to be found in difference. Beauty to be found in having your theology challenged. Beauty in carrying others burdens and having your burdens carried. Beauty in having your ego deflated. Beauty in learning another culture. Beauty in sharing a dream and a mission with others.

And all of this can be had if we would stop looking for others that look like us and simply look at our neighbor. And love them.

New York, Trinity Grace, our small group, and our mix of friends have reminded us of this.

Do you have any suggestions? Add your comment. Please don't spam!
Subscribe to my feed

Post a Comment