I appreciate my friend Karakay Kovaly for pointing me to this excellent read by Mark Yaconelli about the state of church in the US and how a lot of faith communities are struggling to keep up with our fasted pace culture. One of the key paragraphs for me is this one:
Because, hidden beneath its anxiety to keep up with the culture, hidden beneath its grief and disorientation, there is a deeper problem: This church doesn’t know how beautiful it is. The people of this church have somehow been tricked into believing the lie that declining memberships, outdated hymns, prayers, and liturgies that use antiquated language equal some sort of spiritual failing. If this church would only embrace its sense of failure, it might be freed up to find that it holds great treasures.
I’m the first one to admit that the way the Table worships has its strengths and weaknesses. We don’t have the budget or focus to make a slick presentation. We get a little disorganized, have mics that go bad, or start a song in the wrong tempo from time to time. Often, it is the simplest and surprising of things that connect with people, not the elaborate theological constructs and experiments that we labor hours on. We are just people after all, who are doing our best to encounter and point to this Being beyond us who has given us a sense of hope and guidance in this life. More often than not, we over complicate everything.
Dying is scary, but one of those deep rivets that runs through our faith is that death is not final… just another beginning. Out of death, new life mysteriously emerges. That’s one of the stories of Easter. Even if you believe that Jesus probably didn’t come back to life, we still contend that this movement of people experienced something so unforgettable and life changing through this person that it has continued to this day. In the end, it’s just people, struggling, grasping, celebrating, hoping, and yearning for that new life to take deep root in their life and in the world all around.
For anyone who checks us out or joins the pub for an evening, I hope they see that first. When I look at our gathered crowd on a Sunday morn or around the table on a Tuesday night, it is what I see – a beautiful people, a beautiful church. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve such a group of folks and join in the process of dying to the brokenness of my life so that something whole and new emerges.