I have an enigmatic relationship with the Church. Specifically the church in the Northeastern part of the US. Particularly in the South Jersey and Philadelphia areas.
I want the church to be the most creative place on Earth. After all, if you are a Christian, you believe that God created the heavens and the earth, right?
I want the church to exemplify the love of Christ. After all, the church is supposed to be the bride of Christ, right?
I want the church to be a place that everyone can relate to. After all, Jesus related to everyone but the religious folks, right?
I want the church to be a melting pot of cultures rather than the most segregated instution. After all, God created people of all cultures, skin colors and nationalities, right?
If I bring my openly homosexual friend to your church, are you going to welcome him with open arms, or are you going to adopt him as your token gay friend?
If I bring my athiest friend to your church, are you going to engage him in an honest intellectual conversation, or are you going to drone on in a language that, if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t even understand?
If I bring my friend who has gone through hell to your church, are you going to love her, or are you going to tolerate her and try to get her to serve in children’s ministry since she has estrogen running through her veins?
If I bring my (insert ethnicity here) friend to your church, are you going to make her comfortable, or are you going to make a fool of yourself, and therefore me as well?
I have a problem. I have friends that I would love to invite to church one day. Where should I take them? Should I take them to the church that has a concert great worship and feel-good teaching? Should I take them to the church that assumes that everyone who walks in realizes that they need a Savior, when in reality most people think that they’re doing alright on their own? Should I take them to the place that seems to speak English as a second language, their dialect of Christianese as the first? Should I take them to the place where you have to repeat after the pastor, stand up, sit down, and kneel according to some script that is not given to the new people?
I’ll be honest. I’m a Christian, and I don’t feel comfortable in any of those environments. As a matter of fact, I bristle in most of those places. It’s not because I don’t love God or because I think that the people in those churches don’t love God in their own way. It’s not because I don’t have a heart for the church. It’s because I am constantly surrounded by un-churched people who find those kind of environments…plastic. Fake. Something that they are unable to relate to. Something that they are not willing to give up a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning for. Something I’m not willing to give up a Saturday evening or Sunday morning for.
What can we do about this?