My dear friend and Mentor asked me my thoughts on how the Church is doing meeting us where they are, here is my response:
PB asked me to comment on how the modern church is meeting people where they are at in their lives. I would say the Church is not doing as good of job as he is and has been throughout his life. Reference his Caring Bridge post from 1-26-16.
To many of us “church” people get caught up in being right, having the only way to God, I have heard that there are 30,000 Christian religions, 30,000. I think that stat alone tells us how we are doing on meeting people where there are.
If your church believes in 7 points , and we only have 5, of course we are right and you are wrong, let’s start a church! We as Christians, can’t even agree with each other! Let alone have a meaningful dialog with people of other religions!
We hold onto things to tightly, we have the need to be right.Religion at its best is a support group of like believers gathering strength with each other, trying to understand this crazy world we live in, through Christ’s eyes. Jesus only real judgments of people were calling out the injustices he saw being committed in God’s name by the ruling body of his own religion! I am often struck by how we have turned the church( or have allowed it to continue) into many of the things he railed against. I wonder what he thinks about us, probably shakes his head and says not yet, not quite yet Dad.
I have noticed for years how Pastor B has included everyone, when I went to visit him, I asked him how many people had been to visit him, he said if I had to guess, 150 or so! 150, and that was 2 weeks ago! I was struck by that, but I guess it should not be a surprise, he is a lover. I still remember the day he said that during one of his sermons( he prefers messages), I still remember the look on his face as he said it, priceless!
I think we can see in a life lived as he lived his a model for how we all can live our lives, lose yourself in loving others, putting others ahead of yourself, meeting people where they are. Everything fits or nothing fits.
All work on the world starts with the individual, the only person you can change is you, you need to be the change you want to see in the world. There is No other way to create lasting change.
People are leaving the church in large numbers, the church seems out dated, out of touch with people of today. I think it’s in large part due to its reluctance to move beyond 4th century creeds and dogma, or literal-ism, it doesn’t speak to a modern ear, its jamming a square peg into a round hole.
People don’t need saved, they need to know they belong to something, something larger than themselves.
I was driving to church last Sunday and I passed 3 Amish Buggies, and I was struck with the thought that that’s much of the modern church today. We are stuck in the past, just as they are, most of us “English” look at the Amish as a novelty, outdated, interesting, but outdated. Is that how GOD see’s us?
I believe that God’s presence is a divine unfolding, it’s always a verb , an action word. God’s call to us is to move the story forward, always on the move, just like the universe, always expanding.
I think we hold onto the wrong stuff all the time, I think once the church got around to the 4 century and the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the “state” religion, things changed. Christianity was much more inclusive before that, had room for people at the edges of the faith.
We lost the Love and Forgiveness part of the equation, I think that’s Christianity boiled down to its core, is radical Love and radical Forgiveness. I think that’s most of what Jesus says.
I think we need to get back to our core, which is very inclusive, and we need to jettison the baggage many of us bring to our Religions! ITS NOT YOUR COUNTRY CLUB, YOU DON’T GET TO PICK THE MEMBERS!
God does, my mentor as says “Everything is going God’s way? The interesting thing is that God lets the children run the circus!
From a Pod Cast I saw with Pastor Rob Bell: “We were raised in a culture and a time where the primary energies were spent looking for differences….if we don’t start using our energies looking for similarities, we are in trouble.”
The Buddhist have this saying , when the hand points to the moon(God), don’t fall in love with the hand(religion).
I think we need to find the moon again in our religion. We need to keep the best of it, and find new ways to reach out to others!
Don’t get caught up in dogma, or being right or wrong, be authentic, follow your path, it probably won’t look like anybody Else’s path, and that OK.
We are all loved children of the ONE GOD, it has to be….
It all has to fit….
It’s a LOVE story, keep it simple.