I relate to Rachel Held Evans statement “The truth is, it’s easier for me to love my neighbors to the left than my neighbors to the right.”, which she confessed in her blog post titled “Big Tent, Small Town.” Rachel is part of a church plant called, The Mission, and she writes:
“Our hope is that as we continue to serve our neighbors The Mission will become a safe place for those who don’t always fit in at the church around the corner—doubters, dreamers, artists, misfits, gays and lesbians, divorcees, the lonely and the disenchanted. In addition, we want our little faith community to grow into a true picture of the Kingdom, which belongs to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and the humble, and which is made up of people of all different ethnicities, political persuasions, and theological positions. From my perspective, serving and loving the people in the margins is the easy part, for I am a bit of a misfit myself. The hard part is serving and loving those who are critical of our efforts, those who say our tent is a little too big for the Bible Belt. It is inevitable that as we seek partner with other churches in our area, we will run into the very attitudes and approaches that left many of us wounded. I find myself getting all defensive when local Christians question my commitment to my faith.”
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.”
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.”
When Kristen Grace McCaig was born we all knew she was special. Her dark brown eyes soaked in the world with a curious sparkle. Sadly at a day old, she began a pattern that would continue for the next twelve years of her life. That pattern of countless trips to the hospital and doctors offices with bizarre ailments resulted in only confusion and concern but no diagnoses. Day 1 it was blood in the stool. Age 6 months to 18 months it was “failure to thrive.” She was tested for everything under the sun but no one could figure out why she was so small. At age four they told us she would not reach five feet tall as they continued to poke and test her for every genetic disorder imaginable.
At age seven she could not draw a straight line and writing her own name was an agonizing experience. She was diagnosed with visual motor integration dysfunction which is basically a fancy way of saying she could not write well. There was a kind of disconnect between her mind and her hands but no one could explain why. While she was excelling academically, she continued to fight her body. In PE, she was the slowest child and her PE teacher noticed motor planning issues in her inability to string activities together like the other children.