Originally published Monday, 10 March 2014.
I was raised in the Church.
I am the daughter of a salesman turned pastor and the wife to a worship pastor/church planter.
We got married in the Church.
I worked at the Church.
I volunteered in the Church.
I've been a part of mega churches, growing churches, celebrity churches and churches with less than 25 people in attendance.
I've led worship at churches with well established teams and professional bands and I've led at churches with mediocre talent but surrendered hearts.
I've been in the middle of one gruesome church split and two inspiring church plants. I've seen churches grow over night and churches close before their first birthday.
But while time and experience can create insight, I believe what gives me any ounce authority on speaking to and from the Christian Church perspective, is that like 37% of unchurched adults* in our country, I have been burned by the Church.
I understand fear. I understand anger. I understand being vulnerable and being judged.
I understand because I've been on both ends of that phone line. I've been hurt and controlled and I've been the one to hurt and control others. I am both offender and offended and that, I believe, gives me some sliver of substance to speak out on this massively ambiguous topic of Church.
Over the past decade, many coffee shop dialogues, reactionary blogs and podium messages on "the church" have come from the youth of my generation. Now adults, and today's church, we've written, spoken, and cried out from a deep, deep well of resentment.
So what happened exactly Church? Why do we feel you screwed us up? Why do you feel we've rebelled? Why do we have such high and low expectations of each other that neither generation can seem to fulfill?
The answer doesn't fit inside the coloring lines. I've tried. I believe the conversations surrounding the Church (both local and global) could stand for a little flame fanning and ash stoking, but this time, maybe with the perspective that Jesus had when he prayed and died and rose again for "the Church."**
Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching, that they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.
I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one: I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me. (John 17: 20-23)
For the joy set before Him, [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
The Church is Christ's joy and if we are following His lead, somehow it must become ours too.
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I hope you will journey with me in this DEAR CHURCH SERIES and ask the tough questions. Your feedback and insight is always welcome in the comments section. But let's remember to keep it just that, a conversation. No name-calling, foul language or foul play. Your comment will be deleted. Let's re-discover together.
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*This number does not include those burned and still attending.
**I am fully aware that there are extremely serious wounds caused by people in the church and church leadership (ie. verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse). The following letters are not an attempt to address those cases. And I am sorry if that has been your experience. You do not deserve that.
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