The Church Stinks…
From an email I sent to my church today…
In the last few weeks I have done a lot of thinking about the church. Not merely this church, but the whole North American church. I have come to some realizations more clearly than ever before and I’m going to tell you what they are, but please prepare for some honesty and frankness.
It’s time to just say it. Folks, to me, the church stinks. Church-as-usual I mean. I’m not a fan of boring sermons, of music that sounds like you’ve blasted a hundred years back in time, of stuffy suits, of marquis with cheesy slogans on them out by the road, and of having to mind your p’s and q’s so much that you feel like a fake anytime you even come close to acting like the person you really are. I’m not a fan of feeling like I have to use spiritual language so that people will know I’m seeking God.
The Lord told me this is what we should do, instead of “Let’s do this.” God’s vision for Wildwind involves… instead of “Here’s my vision.” How’s your spiritual life, instead of “Tell me how you are doing, really.”
The fact is I don’t, and never have, cared about the “code language” that helps one Christian identify another. I have noticed that most people at Wildwind don’t seem to either, and that’s one reason why I love our church. Mostly, I’m not a fan of churches where people who are struggling can’t be honest about that. I’m thankful that I pastor and attend a church where I can be honest about things, even as pastor, and still be seen as someone who wants God in my life.
Wildwind will continue to be about what it has always been about. Honesty. The pursuit of a godly life together in an honest way. Honesty says I don’t know all, or even most, of the answers just because I’m the pastor. (In fact, as pastor I am simply the “chief seeker.”) Honesty admits that the lives we all lead publicly are usually the cleaned-up and pressed versions of the ones we live in private. Honesty admits that our actions and language are usually different Monday through Saturday than they are on Sundays and understands that we’re neither any better, nor any worse, than the person sitting next to us. Instead of trying to muster up spiritual feelings on Sunday mornings before we get to church, honesty understands that staggering into church broken sometimes is what it’s all about — after all, we just might find healing there. Wildwind’s core value that covers honesty, is authenticity.
I can’t tell you how many times I have staggered into church broken in the past few months. Even so I have found, and continue to find, healing at Wildwind Church. And it is not a building that is healing me, but the people who are Wildwind. It is you who listen to me tell you sometimes that I am lost, and yet are willing to continue to follow; you who know I am not who I wish I could be, yet have faith that somehow — like you — I’m okay with God; you who walk this road with me in small group, through encouraging notes you send to me, through continuing to believe I have something worthwhile to say to you, even though you know I’m not always a genius at managing my own life.
Let Wildwind always be that place. After all, I know if I can find not judgment but healing and grace there, it is available to everyone. I’m the one up front, therefore I’m the easiest target — the one easiest to hit with stones of judgment, and the one held to the highest standard (as it should be). And yet I have received not one single email or call from someone sitting in judgment of my recent struggles. Please know that no matter where you are, what you are struggling with, or how messed up you feel inside, there is grace for you. I have been on the receiving end of that grace, and I know there is plenty left for all who need it.