Last week we spoke about what some of the costs and benefits of being part of a Church might be. The opportunity for community, for spiritual and mental growth, space for you and a place to love and be loved. This, is weighed up against how flippin' annoying church can be sometimes and that, like an human institution, it can get it spectacularly wrong sometimes. You don't need examples, I know you have seen it all before. But for me, the vision of what it could be has tipped the balance and I am committed to it (God help me!) but getting to this place has been no easy journey let me tell you!
Because even if that
vision of church as community hub and spiritual watering hole sounds
fantastic to you then unfortunately the situation in the church today
is such that just wandering in might be a rather difficult thing for
you to do. I often joke with a friend of mine who also came to church
in later life that being an adult coming into the church rather than
being raised in it, is like being an alien landing on Planet
Christian. You don't speak the same language, for a good proportion
of the time you have no idea what is going on and when you do finally
get what is going on you are always the one saying 'Do we have to do
it like that?' and that can be an interesting person to be!
The Church, in all
generations, has been given the task of making God, faith, the whole
shebang, make sense to the people of its time. Sometimes the church
is really great at that. Sometimes, and I wonder if we are in one of
the times, it is a bit rubbish really and the whole thing can get a
bit mysterious. In a bad way.
If you have not been
raised going to church and therefore have learned the lingo then you
will struggle to even decode the service board to know what on earth
you should expect of any of these things let alone knowing when you
should stand up or sit down or say something in the service itself.
This, I must stress, is entirely not your fault and I think is rather
A huge part of the
responsibility for rectifying this lies with the Church and I am
hugely passionate about that. Because underneath those layers of what
at times can seem like impenetrable 'Church Culture' is a two
thousand year old heritage full of richness and beauty and wealth.
Underneath it all is a place where I have discovered life, hope and
been changed for the better and I am not the only one. I really,
really, really hope that the Church of this generation will do
something about making these riches accessible to people today.
But that doesn't mean
that Church is a closed door to those of us who come into it with no
prior experience. We have many advantages. Not being raised in a
tradition or even in a religion means that we are not wedded to a
particular way of doing things. This means that you can try out a
whole range of styles without prejudice and preconception. I have
been part of churches with a stage and a band up front and ones with
incense and hundreds of years old services. I loved them both. Us
newbies can be intrepid explorers of the spiritual landscape, going
into territory that others find it deeply uncomfortable to go.
And as explorers we are
also questioners. The church needs people who ask 'Why?' A LOT. Never
be afraid to ask why things are as they are, or what things mean. You
may uncover for other people the gaps in their own knowledge which
may start them off on their own voyage of discovery. Celebrate your
role as a challenger and don't be afraid of what you don't know. A
lot of people in Church don't really know either, they have just
grown too afraid to ask. Be an Asker!
And I also hope this
blog can be a place for the spiritual explorer to find support and
companions on the way.In the next post I will do a little decoding for you on what some of the Church lingo you might encounter really mean. And if you do have any questions you can contact me with any questions under
the 'Want to Chat?' Button above or through Facebook or Twitter. I'd
love to run a retreat one day for all of us explorers to come
together and support and learn from one another. So wherever you are
on your own spiritual journey, take heart and be bold. It really is well