Monthly Archives: June 2010
Recently a friend of mine shared concern over the fact that her children, who are in their forties, love Christ and live by Christian principals but have little interest in being a part of the institutional church.
I read this quote this week over at Emerging Mummy which speaks to why some Christians have left the church,
“As we all know, this is the world 2.0, meaning that it is interactive and we are the people formerly known as the audience, viewing our individual voices and stories as equal and valuable. Also, as Bill Kinnon said, we are also the people formerly known as the congregation:
“We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid “the assembling of the saints.” We just don’t assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time – engaged in generative conversations – teaching and being taught.
We live amongst our neighbors, in their homes and they in ours. We laugh and cry and really live – without the need to have you teach us how. – by reading your ridiculous books or listening to your supercilious CDs or podcasts.”
Recently my friend Yolanda texted me these words “I am reading your book and your heart is so big I am able to feel what you were feeling in Chapter 5 and I am just balling!” Well I hope as you read this post, you feel not only my pain but those of my friend Trudy. However, Trudy does not need your tears, she needs your help.
Trudy has been a part of our Embrace Fairfield team for over six months. Trudy never finished high school and grew up in a rough neighborhood. She is street smart and tough as nails. She stood out to me because she has a mischievous nature. She can look at you with an absolutely stone cold expression and tell you that you messed up in some way and convince you that you did what she said you did. Then burst out laughing when she gets a reaction out of you. The first time she did that to me, I thought she was angry with me. I started apologizing for whatever it was she said I did even though I did not remember doing it. Her smile and that twinkle in her eye brought me such joy and relief.
Every day I drive past church parking lots and admire the church buses and vans that sit collecting dust while we attempt to address the transportation crisis in our city. Across this city, congregations gather for meals that resemble a feast as I watch my urban friends scrap together a meager meal so that they can enjoy the same kind of table fellowship. I read church bulletins about the upcoming missions trips and the thousands of dollars being raised to help send members to the other side of the world for a one week experience while our local urban missionaries fail to find the support and encouragement they need to transform our own backyard. We currently have four desks crammed into one office and two team members per desk while many inner city churches sit empty all week. I get letters from churches asking for funds to support their next mega-building campaign while I watch families become homeless because they do not have the $200 they need to maintain their housing. When we approach churches about using what should be God’s resources to advance God’s Kingdom or care for God’s children, we hear the following:
“We can’t use our van to help you take inner city kids to the park because of “liability” issues.”
“We can’t host your fellowship event because our people are just too busy.”
“Members of our church really like going away to foreign countries to do missions.”
“Our policy is to only use our building for “church-sponsored” activities.”
“We only provide financial support for “members” who are in crisis.”
Growing up outside the church, I never would have imagined that one day, a pastor would use my story as a sermon illustration. However, I was honored when Rev. Dixie Brachlow, the Associate Pastor of Fairfield Presbyterian Church asked if she could quote a portion of my post “Healing the Wounds of the Bible Belt” in her sermon this past Sunday titled, The Extravagant Gardner. I love the way in which she tied my story to Jesus parable about seeds in Matthew 13:1-23. Below is an excerpt from Rev. Brachlow’s sermon which she has graciously allowed me to share with you:
Earlier this week I participated in a conversation on Reconciliation. A longtime African American resident of Richmond who lived through the era of desegregation was in my discussion group and asked some really great questions. “What do we mean by reconciliation? What is the goal and how do we know when we have reached it?” This gentleman spends a lot of time in impoverished African American communities who have been damaged by attempts to “reconcile” and he approached the subject with what appeared to me to be hostility toward the idea of reconciliation or what he perceived as reconciliation. Another member of the group helped me understand the anger I was sensing. He shared that he had interviewed educators with 30-40 years experience teaching in the black community and asked them “Did desegregation help or hurt black communities?” The overwhelming response was “It was harmful to the community.” Another participant in our group shared how as a little girl, the message she received was that she had to give up her community and her school in order to live in the “white man’s” world. For her the word “reconciliation” was synonymous with “loss and sacrifice.”