Sunday, January 22, 2006

Why People Don't Like Church

This past week a number of people have written me their stories about why they don't like church. I spoke to this briefly in my sermon today called, "A Church That Looks Like God" posted 01/23/06.

As people have told me what they don’t like about church it often has something to do with being excluded. Church leaders told them that because they believed the wrong thing or behaved the wrong way that they weren’t acceptable to the church. They couldn’t attend the church or take communion at the church or be married at the church or burying someone in their family. It's very offensive.

Now, I understand that churches have the right to their doctrines and their moral codes. And they have the right to include or exclude anyone they want. But when they condemn and reject people they aren’t looking like God. And that’s sad.

Somehow Jesus was able to reveal people’s sin to them without rejecting them or making them feel like pond scum. Somehow, when Jesus pointed out a person’s sin they walked away feeling like he believed in them rather than feeling condemned by him. So I think that a church that looks like God will find a way to do the same. They’ll find a way to affirm people without approving their sin. And I think they’ll find a way to include people without compromising the truth.


Anonymous said...

As you were going through your sermon today there was one thing that really stood out in my mind. As you know I am very interested in this concept of social organization that we call community. The central part of my thesis is on this concept of community as it ties into education. However, I am beginning to sense there is a greater depth to this concept that I have been missing. This came to me today as you were reading some of the scriptures you were you using to identify God’s purpose for the church. It was the word communion and it stood out to me as a very significant part of what community is.
I am thinking about the relationship that existed between God, Adam and Eve before the fall. I recall that God would walk through the garden with Adam and Eve. I have this image of them walking together and talking possibly even stopping to admire a flower in bloom or listening to the song of a bird. I believe that this also included the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in this interaction. I think that at least in my mind God would like to restore that type of relationship which I believe to be the true sense of communion. I know that it is more than but at this moment being able to comprehend or at least to imagine how this would actually play out for me at least is very profound. I guess that I am not very good at expressing my thought here.
Perhaps, the most significant thing that I see is that a community without God, without interacting with God would be void of the very essence of what community really is. That is the interaction between God and us. Somehow it seems that we have separated ourselves from him more than he has separated from us. That is to say that through sin we separate ourselves from God just as Adam and Eve hid from God when they realized they were naked. Interestingly, they interacted, (had communion) with God prior to this knowledge and were completely naked but unconscious of it and walked freely with God. Furthermore, in order to cloth them animal skins were used indicated that life had to be sacrificed in order to atone for their condition and to restore their communion with God.
I think then that it would be possible for us to build a community without given much consideration to our communion with God. It would be possible for this community to function at a certain level and yet fall short of the purpose that you have expressed and what I see in the examples I have given. The idea of a circle is not new but rather is old as mankind himself. Early man would sit around a fire in a circle to eat and to share stories that connected everyone. I like how you tied in the concept of the trinity with the concept of community. I think that it goes one step further to encompass communion with God and one another. When I say communion, I am describing a very open, accepting, and interacting relationship with God such as existed before the fall in the Garden of Eden. I see the circle as being God’s purpose to bring us back around to the point where we once again have that type of relationship with him and one another.
Maybe, I am way off here but as I study community as a concept it leads me to understand that it is all about relationships and how we interact with one another. It is about sharing and working together to build and to discover. It is about building trust and discovering what a group of people can do once they are united and focused.
Sorry, this is much longer than I intended it to be. Community has become a real important discovery for me over the past years through the research that I have been doing. I just am amazed at how this is all unfolding right in front of my eyes. God continues to astonish me with his benevolence, I am speechless.


Moosemusicman said...

Isn't it odd that the one place in the world that is supposed to be the most accepting is often times the most judgemental. People ought to be able to come as they are and be happily welcomed into the body of Christ, but unfortunately, we expect them to change in this way or that first.

Have you read: "they like Jesus, but not the church." or 7 practices of effective ministry