Old Church New Church Red Church Blue Church

Growing up in the Southern Baptist paradigm, my first view of church was a really good one. It was a small family church called First Baptist Church in Thibodeaux, LA. I can remember the off-white globes of light hanging from the ceiling and playing hide and seek throughout the blue-carpeted insides. It was your classic small-town Baptist church, not country, not city.

Since that time, my church experience has taken me many different places. From that first church, I've been many places, but there was one move that I made [from First Baptist of Lafayette to Trinity Bible Church of Lafayette] that was very significant in my journey with God. I was 19 at the time and somewhat confused about what to do. I felt like I didn't fit. And as I read an article [whole article here] off of Emergingchurch.info, I resonated specifically with his bullet points of wanting to leave.

In response to why he left the Church, Author Paul Fromont writes: "I increasingly felt out of place as my life-experiences, my values, my following of Jesus, and my reading of the Jesus-story failed to connect or resonate in any meaningful way with the overwhelming majority of others in the congregation...

I increasingly found myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually disengaging from the congregation... self-censoring, feeling unable to authentically express who I was as a human being and as a Jesus-follower. My faith journey was something I increasingly felt I couldn'’t share. In fact I described myself as 'leaving 90% of who I was at the church door when I entered...'

[we] just weren'’t connecting or resonating at a deep level, nor were our ways of being church moving toward implementing the kinds of changes I believed were needed in order to address the big missional disconnect between the gospel and it'’s meaningful engagement with the wider culture.

I realised that I desperately needed space and silence for listening, for surprise and mystery; space for conversation, for debate, for communal input and shared output. I discovered that I needed a belonging-place that would help me open (and keep open) my eyes and heart to God, God discovered in the midst of silence, beauty, wonder, darkness, mystery, sacrament, liturgy, friendship, and every-day living."

Now this guy has left church altogether, something I wouldn't recommend to anyone, but what he's talking about here is very similar to what sent me out of my journey almost 9 years ago. I thought I'd find the answer at another church, but really, Jesus [who is the Answer and the Question] was waiting for me to open my eyes and see Him right there waiting.

Now that I'm involved in planting a brand new congregation called Vox, I can understand much more fully the reason why churches do what they do, for better and for worse. It's actually made me more sympathetic toward other churches in different contexts. But more importantly, I can understand the utmost importance of church-planting in every believer's life. In the same way forming a family transforms people, planting a church has shown me [and I believe it's true for all of us] the richness and importance of building up a body of believers in a new expression. And not just new for the sake of being new, but for the sake of continually rediscovering what is lost after traditions become rote.

I'll end with this quote [whole interview here] from Johnny Baker,"Tradition is often assumed to be doing the same thing again and again and again. But actually that is traditionalism - something that quickly becomes dry and dead. Language and culture are forever changing and evolving, so to be truly traditional means driving to be the heart of what is in a tradition and enabling it to live by reframing it in new cultural contexts. Jesus did this all the time. Tradition in this sense is something to be played with by the community. The dangerous memory of Jesus can strangely be the very thing from the [Christian] tradition itself that is used over and against the tradition to subvert and renew it."


Sandy McCann said...

Hey Drew!
All I can say is I am SO happy for you...being closer to finding your place in the call of Kingdom building. It is SO painful to feel so lost, in this area sadly I have experience. I sadly feel I am slipping down the path of the author you quote (away from church), and it feels so queer because I KNOW I have Jesus walking with me...where do I belong??? You do it dude!