Hat tips to Erin, Barb, and Happy and the many commenters on their posts. . . I'm partly picking up on a conversation already in progress on several other blogs. But partly not. This complex of stuff has been swirling in my thoughts for months. You can think of it as an open letter, I suppose, because there's a number of you out there that I would address it to individually, if you lived in my little splodge of Indiana . . . which you don't . . .
Hi. I'm the local pastor's wife. Our church is small--there are two dozen bigger ones in town. We're not doing glitz; we don't have the people to pull it off even if we wanted to. Things often look pretty staid and conventional of a Sunday morning. (I know I do--I'm never at my best in the morning). I would like to have you worship with us. I would like to worship with you--will you give me the chance to worship with you?
I've read some of what you've been writing lately. You sound like someone that I'd like to know. A vibrant, interesting person. A person who's willing to ask questions and let the answers mean something. I love having those conversations. I know you're not going to a church these days. What would it take for you to give ours a chance?
I know you were burned pretty bad last time. Neglect. Lies. Overwork. And boxes--more than anything, you're leery because "they" tried to stuff you into a too-small box and you were told that that was the Christian life. Well, you figured that God is far, far bigger than that. Weirder, wilder, stranger. Holier and more awesome than our frail little human frames can even begin to dream of.
Here's the thing. I dream of having a church full of people who know that--know down in their gut that belonging to Christ means a wild ride. That God growing us into the people he wants us to be is going to shatter our boxes and expectations . . . that chasing Jesus is not a side-bar to whatever life we happen to be living anyway, but that it is turning "in a direction that isn't usually there . . . a left turn that was left to absolutely everything." And that it leads us to a place more wonderful, real, and difficult than this world wants to admit exists. I want a whole church of that. I want the gift of being able to worship together with people who take me off guard.
Oh yeah. It'll be messy. I really do know that--have I mentioned that I'm a mess too? I'm not completely clueless. I know that the realest, most alive parts of our being are the places where we've been hurt the most deeply, the places that the darkness seems to live. And yes, that's what I want--I want a church where we're not afraid of each other's brokeness . . . because I think that it's only when we dive into those depths that we can find out just how much further God goes.
But here's the thing. There can't be a church of hurt people together unless some of the people who know that they're hurt are willing to give me, to give us, to give each other a chance . . . I've heard you say that what you want doesn't exist. And I know that our congregation isn't that either. Yet. But I would like to take it closer. And I'd like to have your company along the way. I think that by God's grace we could build something pretty good--and I think it would be better for having your insights, hurt, expectations and creativity in it. Is there anything I can do so that you would give a less-than-perfect church--any church--a second chance?