Monday, March 2, 2009

I Have A Confession To Make...

...I'm not very religious anymore.

That may sound strange. I'm a pastor, after all! I have to admit that, for years, I got a warm feeling in my heart every time I saw a fish on the back of a car. (Unless it was one of those Darwin thingys.) Each time I saw one, I thought, "Those are my people! They're one of US!"

I don't think that way anymore. Why? Because the natural conclusion is that everyone who isn't one of us is one of them. And the more I read the Gospels, the more I am amazed at Jesus. He seemed to live in an us and them society, too. The difference? The us of His generation constantly criticized Him for hanging around with them! I'm convinced that, if they had cars back then and two different ones stopped to offer Jesus a ride, He would have intentionally chosen the one without the fish.

Now that I have your attention, you might not be surprised at a type of conversation I occasionally have with new people at our church. It goes something like this... After a service, some one/couple/family finds me in our lobby. They smile, shake my hand and tell me their names. Often they tell me what a great service we just had and a little bit about themselves. In the course of just a few sentences, they begin to show their obvious attitude that they are insiders. They're not like those people outside the church. Usually their vocabulary is punctuated with terms that only insiders could understand.

Now don't get me wrong. I love people like that. How can I not? I was one for so long! But something changed. Now it is my responsibility to make them aware of something so that they won't be misled...

I say something like, "It seems from your background and the way that you describe yourselves that you really enjoy spending time with church people. I need to warn you that we aren't very religious in our church. We go out of our way not to use churchy language. We try to meet people where they are and every week we have people attend here who aren't sure about Christ. They don't know if they want to follow Him or if they will believe in Him. They do know that they are welcome and can come as long and often as they want and won't be considered outsiders."

In live conversation, I don't think I'm as careful with my words as in the above paragraph. I bluntly told one couple, "I don't think we're as religious as you are."

They didn't come back. I have a feeling that they are out there somewhere praying for this heathen pastor they met.

I hope so, anyway.


Rachel Cotterill said...

I have always felt slightly uncomfortable with big organised religions which like to tell everyone else that they are wrong. If I knew a church more like your church, I would probably go more often.

Liz said...

Sounds like your church is a lot like my church. My pastor "specializes" in reaching the un- and de-churched. He is all about meeting people where they are, introducing people to Jesus. There is certainly a population in our congregation of very religious people, of course. But there aren't a lot of those heavy handed religious images and messages.

I tend to shy away from folks who just spout of Bible verses as a response to anything or who wear God t-shirts or magnets or bumper stickers. Because I often find that these people are using these props in an effort to convince themselves of their beliefs instead of starting on the inside and realizing that how you live your life is the best way to show your faith.

I have a lot I could say on this subject, Sam!!

Sam said...

Rachel, I hope (and think) we have many people who would fit your self-description in our church. When you next hop the pond, please make sure you have AZ in your itinerary.

Liz, you often add substance to my thoughts. Thanks for doing so today. I love your word pictures!

Isabella said...

Let me say "thank you." If it wasn't for people like you, I am pretty sure I would have never joined my church.


mumof2 said... words spoken so true and why I became a member and love SRC.