Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Desmond's 3rd Question

Here is the next question from Desmond’s interview. This took me a while to think how to put into words something that is very heartfelt. So here is question #3.

In one of your previous comments on this blog, you mentioned having once belonged to a Christian community. Could you tell us more about that?

My Christian Community began in college with a campus Christian fellowship. It was a fabulous time of delving into the Bible and being challenged to live out the gospel with each other and our community. The things I learned as a child were being built upon with the intensity of being 20 and in college. We tested what was said in the Bible and were thrilled when we saw they were true.

Many of us started attending a new little church that was excited about God and had a strong belief that fellowship is like the communities in Acts chapter 2. We didn’t sell everything we had and share the money, but if we had something someone else needed, we gladly lent or even gave it to them. Did someone need to move? 20 people would show up on moving day, with half a dozen coming before to help clean so you can get your deposit back. Did someone need prayer? We would pray for hours if needed. Worship was intense. Trust built up to where you could share with several people your struggles and pain without judgment – but also know these people would help you seek God’s discernment. I went away for several years to work with a Christian organization, and when it was time to come back I purposely returned to this community.
Now there are as many explanations about why this church broke up as there are people involved. I am going to share my perspective and welcome comments from other members or friends of members to share their ideas.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent many years overseas attending churches where I barely spoke the language. Worship was awesome – God knowing the depth if the words I sung even more than I did. However the sermons were tough for me to follow. So, once I got lost, which was pretty quickly, I tuned out and meditated on the scripture passage. Even when I had translators, I was always analyzing what was said because I know things often got mixed up in translation. Once I came back to America, I kind of did the same thing even though the sermon was in English. More often than not I would tune out what the sermon said or take what the pastor said and analyze it until it made sense to me. Hence I didn’t really catch on to when the pastor started preaching things that were not really bad, but not Biblical.

Also, with as much desire as everyone had to love everyone for Christ, we were not growing as a church. Everyone was therefore doing everything, so if someone needed a break or sabbatical, there was no one to step up to the plate and you saw the ministry you put your heart and sweat into falter or die. There was a lot of guilt not to take a break. If any kind of long-term need came up we were too stretched to properly take on the challenge.

I would add to this issues I have with many churches. One is the lack of young men, especially single men in church and the causes behind that. Another is how single women are a kind of second class citizens who have to “be protected” like young children – regardless of their age or spiritual maturity.

Eventually the people in the top tier of leadership reached beyond their limit and either moved away of left for another church. There were deep wounds all around, and within a year the church denigrated. Most went to one of two churches in town, while a few “took a break” from church all together.

The remnant that chose the church I now attend has stayed together. When I get together with these people, even if it has been weeks or months, it is easy to get to heart issues because we have an old trust. There are several women, and by proxy their husbands, who keep in contact almost daily via group email. These emails share painful struggles and outrageous joys. One person shares how her kids often see her belt out in an operatic falsetto, “Lord, help me Jesus!”

These people, grounded in God, community and trust, help keep me sane when Jesus seems far away.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

1 comment:

Desmond Jones said...

Thanks, JM.

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity."