Thursday, November 8, 2012

Assembly of Church

my first smoothie king interview!
My interviews continue to bear amazing fruit. Yesterday I spoke with a youth pastor for a rural Christian church who reminded me what Christian looks like, what church is for, and what Christianity can be.

First, let me make clear that there is a deep gulf between the things he believes and what I believe. I approach the bible very differently, and our visions of God vary widely. Thus, I am not on his page on a variety of moral issues (that we only brushed up against).

But since my goal is to listen, not teach or contradict, I was able to learn what someone who is committed to Christ looks like. He was open and honest, not confrontational or judgmental. He believed in the power of the Holy Spirit based on personal experiences. He committed himself to daily practices - meditation, study, prayer - that would make him more forgiving and less proud.

Here are his three goals as a youth minister, in order:
1) spend time in peoples' lives - not teaching, but just being there as a friend
2) be "an out" - a resource that can be called 24/7 for anything
3) maybe teach sometimes.

I mentioned that, in my experience and the experience of most people I've interviewed, Church is not like that. And he agreed. "We have 30 years or more of bad press to overcome, and it's our fault." He recalled pastors and Churches that were full of gossip and judgment and hate, and he had to get out. Now he is lucky to be at a place in his career that he can shape his community in his own vision:
Church as a place of healing. 

To paraphrase, "I want to teach the gospels like Jesus himself did. First he welcomed and loved. Then he healed. Only after being healed are people ready to listen to the gospels. That's when I myself listened to the gospels and committed my life to Jesus."

During the interview I caught myself remembering the good church communities I had the fortune to be involved with, and how welcoming and loving and wonderful they felt. That is a bold contrast with almost every other church I've worked with. Please, Christians, take note.

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