one of the things i love most about the carnival is the wide range of people who read here. some are living out their faith outside the walls of an institutional church, some are still in, some are deeply dedicated to changing the system while others have tried and decided that it was time to spend their energy in a different direction. one thing that is clear to me, though, is that many who read here are on a wild and beautiful journey and are willing to engage in ideas that may challenge, irritate, inspire, or encourage them along the way.
i have written many a time about how much i love the church*. i put an asterik by it because to me the church has nothing to do with 4 walls, a set time, a sermon and some music; to me, the church is people gathered together in some way, shape or form to learn & practice the ways of Jesus & pass on love, hope, mercy, justice, and healing in a broken, weird world. at the same time, even though many of us have a romantic idea of what could be when it comes to the church, many more have resigned themselves to the non-romantic–believing that their dreams aren’t really possible and so they better just go with the flow and stick with what’s known, what’s available, where their other friends are going. this piece is not designed for people who are happy with their institutional church and like going and don’t have any issues with it. i fully respect that God is at work there and lots of people are finding what they need. i never want to take that away from anyone; i know there are amazing 4-walls-and-a-great-program churches that are very helpful to many people.
in this video, we are talking about people who know in deep places in their hearts that it’s not working for them anymore, so they left. for a while. they enjoyed their sundays, the freedom. they might have tried some other forms of church here and there, maybe some new emerging community, a small group, a house church, or hanging out with average people who don’t know anything about church and really are doing just fine. but slowly, surely, somehow they get discouraged, lonely, bored, and end up back in “the system”–the grind of the weekly worship service, the kids program, the 30 minute message. they start going again or maybe never really left. the bottom line to me is that the gravitational pull is strong, stronger than anyone thinks. i’ll admit, it makes me sad. i can’t tell you the number of people i run into who tell me they are bored and tired of the grind, but they keep going because they don’t know where else to go. yes, it can be lonely out here. yes, it is confusing and maybe not as clear. but this is how new ideas, new dreams, new connections, new friendships, new life, new faith communities, new hope can be born. not in stagnant, play-it-safe scenarios, but in the step-out-of-all-you-once-knew and trust-that-somehow-God-will-do-something-wild-in-you-that-will-scare-you-and-change-you-forever.
anyway, my friend john and i videoed a few conversations on my computer, nothing edited, nothing scripted, just a little piece that reflects some of the nutty conversations we have now and then. listen in. i’d love to hear some of your thoughts.