Archive for the ‘Grousing’ Category

5/19/2010

When I’m with my friends who are involved in leading ministries, there’s always talk about “attracting more young people” to get involved. A lot of times they talk about needing more youthful music, or programs blah blah blah. But I don’t think that’s really what the “young people” are after. They are after the same thing those of us who are older are after… they are looking for people who care about them. They are looking for real relationships. They are looking for a place where they can be themselves and where people will help them work through the questions they have and hunt for answers together.

There’s a lot of talk about authenticity lately. I think it’s a good thing. But there’s a lot of confusion about what exactly that is. Some people argue that people use it as an excuse to sin and we shouldn’t. Other’s argue that if we really love Jesus we won’t “smoke, drink or chew, or go with girls that do.”  That’s not what I think of when I think of being authentic.

When I was young, I grew up in a pretty abusive home. I lived two lives… the hellish one at home, and the other that I tried to keep separate. I was afraid to let my friends get to close to my life at home. But the result is that I felt fractured. Part of the healing process for me after I became a believer was allowing God to integrate those separate parts of my life into one person. To me, to be authentic means to just be honest about who I am, how I’m doing and what is going on inside of me, as well as my relationship with Christ. That doesn’t mean deliberately trying to get away with stuff I think or know is wrong. I just means that I don’t try to hide my brokenness.  There’s a freedom in that. It also creates an environment where my friends and students feel more free to be honest with me too.

Most of my younger friends especially thrive in an environment where they don’t feel like they have to hide their brokenness… where they feel like it’s ok to come with their questions, and their anger, or their pain, and know that there are people who will still love them. In the midst of that we can heal together. I’m not interested in big, bitchin’ worship, or zippy video. I’m not interested in great sermon delivery. I’m interested in sharing life with other people who I know will support and pray for me. I love it when the church functions as a family. Here’s to more real connection going on.

This was first posted on a strange Bible disussion group I have on myspace called Bible Blah Blah… it is quite the wacky group of people who participate This is a subject close to my heart though so I thought I would post it here too. I would love your feedback… thanks!

Sunday, February 17, 2008 (3:56pm)
FROM MY MYSPACE BLOG

What I Long For…
Hi everyone… this will be long… sorry about that… but if you can, please read it though and see what you think…

Here it is Sunday afternoon. I slept in this morning. Frankly, I didn’t have much choice. Sometimes the combo of the 60 -70 hour workweek and the exhaustion I have wins out over waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed to go to church. Exhaustion will do that to me. I was thinking today that it’s been who knows how many months since I’ve actually made it to the church that I call myself a part of. I like the people… heck I love some of the people a lot. The music guy I consider a good friend who’s like a little brother that I love and pray for, and try to help when I can. In the last few months there have been a precious few weeks where I woke up early enough feeling good enough to go. I even got ready… and I sat here and evaluated. When I really thought about it, I just couldn’t bring myself to go again to a big building, hike in from the parking lot, and sit there with a bunch of people listening to one guy talk and then leave again without any real human contact. Lest you think I’m just being some anti-social curmudgeon standing around waiting for someone to make the effort to talk to me Me ME… that’s no the case. Anyone who knows me knows that complete strangers tell me their whole life story on a regular basis and that I know half the people on the planet. There’s just not a lot of place for that to happen. There’s not a culture there that says that maybe we should really enjoy hanging out with each other.

One of our Bible blah blah gang named Laura wrote a great blog a little while ago about going off to church and ending up sitting somewhere listening to music and reading instead. Laura often writes blogs that are wonderfully raw and poignant at the same time. In her quest to connect with God in a more real way she manages to put her finger on so much of what’s been rattling around inside of me for a long time too. I’m thankful that sometimes she manages to give voice to something that is such a part of me but hard to communicate.

I think when it comes down to it, Laura and I, and probably some of you too are really longing for a sense of community… of family… of having some people that you can just be yourself with and talk about those things that really are going on in your soul. I have some friends I’ve known for years. Some of us have gone to hell and back together… horrible church experiences… normal life things… we’ve grown up together… we’ve suffered loss together… we have shared funny or bizarre experiences together. We’ve fallen flat on our faces… or even run away from God and/or each other… and yet there’s that bond that’s still there. It’s probably stronger because of all the crap. When I see their lives, I’m reminded of a good God who still holds on to both of us. I see the depth of their lives and our lives together because of all the good, the bad, the horribly painful, and the wonderful and crazy things we’ve shared.

That’s the way I feel about pretty much everyone here, except for the few of you who I haven’t had a chance to get to know yet. (And I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.) When I think of the church I think of that kind of group… that’s lived through so much together that they are more comfortable being with each other and being human. I love my friend that I know will love me regardless of how screwed up I am at any given moment and who, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13 “hopes the best” from me. I personally think you are all amazing people for a bunch of reasons. You’re bright and creative. Most of you have lived through a lot of stuff and still have amazingly good senses of humor. A lot of you, like me, have sort of a tenuous relationship with the traditional church at best. But all of us have a hunger… a desire to connect with God in a real way… and with other people as well.

I would like to propose that we ARE the church when we meet each other… whether it’s on each other’s myspace pages or late at night at a restaurant, or at Chuck E. Cheese with a giant rat running around, or in the parking lot after some get together, freezing out butts off but enjoying our conversation and laughing with each other… or on the phone… or via email… or… or… I would like to propose that here on the Bible blah blah page we can discuss anything that is stirring in our hearts or is troubling us. That can be stirred up by the Bible reading or not. As most of us talked about… I don’t expect any of us to be up on the reading, although we can always discuss that too. But I would love to be able to meet here and talk about the real concerns of our souls and to enjoy each other’s company.

So, what do you guys think? You up for that too? I just know that you guys would enjoy each other as much as I do. Anyone else feeling sort of adrift in the church department? I know that for me, when I do have that sense of connectedness with some people, it’s easier for me to brave the institutional church a little more too.

Many times my little music students will ask me what church I go to. I always find myself telling them about the church I go to. What I would really like to tell them is that I get to be a part of the church each week, here at my house with some of my students, online, etc…. Anyway, I would love to hear from you guys about all this too.

RESPONSES TO THE BLOG
 
LAURA POSTED
Hey Linda B – thx for the blog mention. 🙂 Raw and poignant – I’ll have to use that in my press release. 😉 Seriously, glad you dig it.I’ve joined Bible BLah Blah but have yet to make a contribution, I know. Be patient…I’ll get to “church” eventually…. 🙂 I am still working out my connectedness issues on many levels.

RHONDA POSTED…
This was Rhonda’s quote on the blah blah page:”Linda, I feel exactly as you do. I rarely go to the traditional church these days even though Dennis was a priest who served faithfully until his death. I find more Christian community in my online and in-person friends. For me as the token Anglo-Catholic of the group, my biggest reason for still going to the Big Building is to receive Eucharist. (It was easier when I was married to my own personal priest!… lol) But as for community, I don’t find that at all “in church.” Yesterday was Sunday, and I found myself at a jazz in the garden concert here in Phoenix. Some of the musicians are God-oriented and I found them weaving bits and pieces of hymns into sections of the music. Sitting outside, surrounded by nature, listening to people offer up the gift of their creativity to God, I felt like there was more heartfelt worship taking place in that setting than inside the Big Building.”I was thinking about how much I enjoy that kind of thing. I was thinking about the church I’m a part of. I love the music. I enjoy the sermons. I like the leaders. I think the leaders really want more interaction taking place too, and for people to connect more. Maybe it has to do with the culture we live in some and how we view large meetings. Also, because I go to a church that’s primarily gen-x, the whole way they do connectedness is different… they’ve grown up connecting via technology. I’ll see if maybe I can have my friend Jobey, the music director join in the discussion and see what he thinks.

BRIAN POSTED…
Linda,I agree that church is not only more than the music and sermon, I argue probably that it is NOT the music and sermon, but human interaction to spur us to interaction with a living God. That’s why I concur with you that we are the church no matter where we are. I do, however, believe that without some tangible human touch, we don’t stand a chance just to be the church ourselves. Where people can help us with our troubles, push the enemy of our soul away, and encourage us to engage in this life of enjoying our heavenly Dad. In this kind of interaction, we find many things probably too deep to discuss here right now. I don’t get to myspace that often, but I will try to throw my 2 cents worth in. Love you, Brian

MY RESPONSE TO BRIAN…
It’s true that we do need that tangible human touch too. There’s nothing better than being able to really talk and communicate… especially face to face… especially with people that you have a bunch of shared spiritual history with. There are some of my online buddies that I would love to be able to just sit with for hours and really discuss things… since the nature of blogging especially is limited to choppy communication. Although sometimes I do communicate better in written form, especially with topics that are raw or painful. The best of both worlds I guess is both.

ANA POSTED…
“longing for a sense of community”, “just be yourself” — YES!! and AMEN to that. that IS church. “we” ARE church, wherever we may be. but it’s definitely not what i’ve found in the buildings with the big signs out front. i’m walking right beside you in the “tenuous relationship with the traditional church”… i’m meeting up with more and more of us, and finding encouragement there. we are NOT alone, and i believe we are growing in numbers. the “business” of “church” and the status quo won’t hold up much longer. i’m believing in/for that, and looking forward to what is to come…

MY RESPONSE TO ANA…
I agree that there are a bunch of us who are all in that process of transitioning. For me too I think that it’s not even a matter of either or… I think there’s a place for a traditional gathering too. The thing that’s great that’s come out of people’s discontent with the status quo is that people are beginning to realize that they don’t have to wait for a church organization to structure some “program” for them to take responsibility to seek out real fellowship and connectedness that is more organic. I have real, heartfelt communication all the time here on the net and on the phone with people I’ve never even met face to face… but with some we’ve known each other for years and talk just about every day. With the expansion of the net and cheaper phone rates, our world has expanded. Our band of oddballs has grown and we’ve had more chance to find each other. I look at that as a great gift. 🙂

ANA POSTED…
it IS a GREAT gift! i’ve been more and more thankful to find that i am not alone in how i feel about it all, nor am i alone in the journey of discovering the balance. thanks, linda b…

Sunday, June 17, 2007 (1:20 am)
The First Church Of Chuck E. Cheese

Current mood: contemplative Category: Religion and Philosophy

Yesterday I met one of my friends at Chuck E. Cheese. For the uninitiated, this is a pizza parlor/video game/play area designed to overstimulate anyone who walks through the door in less than 30 seconds… Not to mention the huge furry rodent mascot walking around like Micky Mouse at Disneyland. It would not be our normal hangout. We normally meet at a great Thai place. But she has 3 young sons, and since her ex-husband moved out of the area, we haven’t been able to work out the logistics of an adult only visit. I thought the kids might enjoy a chance to pig out on pizza and play games till their eyes glazed over. They did seem to have fun. They would come running over occasionally with a handful of tickets they won on one game or another.

In the mean time their mom and I talked about life, love, suffering, weird experiences we’ve had lately, growing relationships, and our current need to deal with the hurt from our past. We also talked about connecting with God, the state of the church in America, being reminded about what was important through unexpected circumstances. She had just received a study bible in the mail that her ex had left behind with a bunch of her other stuff, when they had to move. It contained her study notes from her time in Bible school. The person who had it found her parents address inside it and sent it back years later. It was very timely for her to get it back in this season of her life. We also talked about the qualities in a pastor that are wonderful when they have them. She made a great point about being in a few churches when she was young were she had a sense that the pastor really cared for the congregation and took his time preparing to speak to the congregation seriously… and he cared for the people in his care. In our modern Christian subculture of hipness and humongous religious machines, I think we’ve lost that sense of family and connectedness. We looked at some books I just picked up for a lending library, and picked out a couple for her to take home and enjoy. Four hours later, the kids had finally glazed over, their game tokens were gone and it was time to cash in their winning tickets for giant bugs and Tootsie rolls and get going. I left feeling like we had our very own church service. We were the body of Christ.

I spent a lot of years working in churches and was amazed at how we kept getting caught up in a bunch of useless religious activity which took up precious time and resources and drained any energy that we could have used to make a real difference in each other’s lives and in the community. That could be ranting for a whole different blog. But as I’ve been growing older I realize that we ARE the church. The big machine might not ever get it. (Although I will continue to be a painful thorn in the side of the machine.) But my life can make a difference to the people I encounter. And their lives can also help transform mine. The church might overlook the single mom… but I have a choice that I can make. In the long run, I want my friends kids to know that there are people who love Jesus who also love them, and who love their mommy and who are committed to walking through the world with her. In that journey I’m happy to worship with her at the first church of Chuck E. Cheese.