Sunday, June 26, 2016


Sunday Reflection: The Role of Church

I'm a churchgoer, and have been since I was a kid. If I don't go, I feel like something is missing. As Abby Rapoport once wrote in describing a sermon I gave at First Covenant, I have experience with a lot of denominations, too:

In five minutes, Osler has done what he likes best—reveal the radical, challenging side of Christianity. He has identified himself as “someone from the pews.” But Covenant isn’t his church, and he doesn’t fully fit in here. He also doesn’t quite fit in at St. Stephen’s Episcopal church, where he currently worships, nor did he quite fit in at the Baptist church he attended when he taught law at Baylor University and lived in Waco, Texas. It’s unlikely he was a perfect match for the Congregational church he was raised in or the Quaker meetings he sometimes joined when he was in his twenties. A progressive among evangelical Christians and an evangelical Christian among progressives, Osler has spent much of his life subverting expectations.

As I describe in my next book (coming out in August), I was a little taken aback by that passage, but had to acknowledge the truth of it. I often don't fit in.

I'm not sure that is a bad thing, either.

I know that people often talk about a church "home" where we feel comforted and cared about but is that necessarily all we should ask for? Doesn't church need to not only comfort us when we need it, but challenge us when we need that?

Sometimes I leave church uplifted, even thrilled. Dan and Holly Collison did that not long ago in a service at First Covenant. Other times, I leave deflated and sad when a liturgy seems devoid of real meaning or challenge.

Church is a hard thing to do right, and we all play a role in creating it; we all are responsible for the outcome at some level.

What do you look for?






Music of the spheres.
Mark, I share a kinship with you in this regard. As one who believes in the Priesthood of All Believers, I am uncomfortable with pastor dominated, elder-controlled, and/or externally controlled local churches. I am uncomfortable with a supposedly democratically organized church where a few committees get elected and then control everything because no one else participates. And that discomfort includes when I am appointed or elected to one of those boards or committees. I did belong at one church where the polity was comfortable to me, but it did not last long there. And the above does not include my issues with churches who want me to believe a particular creed that has language with which I do not agree, which is most of them!
I am (kind of famously) not a creed-sayer.
Good thoughts. Thank you.
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