Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rebootable Church? Sixwing's Thoughts on the Church for the Next Generation Part I

Because it might be unclear, I am using little-c church to indicate an individual congregation and big-C Church to indicate the overarching organization.

This piece I am still up in the air about but I think it needs to be said anyway: get the politics out of the Church. (All of them. From all sides.)

Yes, a church with strong political views will draw people who agree with it. It will also drive away people who disagree with it. If that church is sufficiently obnoxious about its political views, it will taint the larger Church and start driving people away from even less obnoxious branches.

Individuals have the power to act politically as well as the right to worship as they please. The two shouldn't be conflated, though. I do not go to church for a dose of nationalism or a lecture on politics (in fact, I avoid sermons likely to be either). I do go to church to seek a higher understanding of God, or myself, or the relationship between me and God. That is the purpose and focus of the Church - allowing a place for individuals to pursue their relationship with God.

That may turn into political activism motivated by my morals, those being influenced and shaped (but not exclusively given) by my relationship with God. But that is my choice and not at all the realm of the Church.

All right. I've gotten a bunch here about what the Church should avoid. I need to put up some of what it should include.

It needs to include, intentionally and specifically, people.
All the people who want to be there.

Maybe even all the people who don't want to be there, in case one should ever come anyway. That means accepting all the Others we spend so much time defining and pushing away. Others being whatever group of humans your sermon railed about a few weeks ago. I bet it changes by region, denomination, even congregation. THOSE people. You know who I'm talking about. Let them in. Show them your love and let them be who they are. Frequently, the people of my generation are THOSE people. I've been one of THOSE people, and when my section of the population is disincluded, I notice.

It needs to include God. I can't tell you how many sermons I've heard that have Bible verses in them, but no Jesus. Barely any God, even. And what is the entire reason (or at least, supposed to be the reason) we come together in a congregation anyway? Though this is less of a problem than including people, I've still seen it be a problem.

And it needs to include room for imperfection. We're all human here. Us people and them people alike. We make mistakes. If the Church has no room for them, who will?


MJ said...

I think most of us here totally agree with you and that's why there are not comments to your statements.

I don't know if you have read Crazy for God, but Frank Scaeffer and his dad were very instrumental in getting politics into the church. He regrets it now and believes that their good intentions were used by the republican party to broaden their base. Once the politics got into the church, it has been very hard to separate the two.

Eagle said...

Oh come on MJ!!! Don't you know Christianity is best when it operates in the siege mentality? Remember it "us" vs. "them" and "them" is a threat to the family, kids, radio stations, television programming, and surbiba upper middle class way of life.

I mean come on...it's been almost 1 day since Prop 8 in California was struck down and so far no one has stuck their foot in their mouth on cable!! Where's Pat Robertson or John Haggee when you need them?

MJ said...

Oh, just give them a day or two on ye of little faith.

Sixwing said...

Hee. Thanks, MJ - I will look that book up. Sounds like it's right up my alley.