I’m definitely slow on blogging these days. Lots of thoughts swirling around in my head and little to no time to sit down and give them a chance to come out. However, I have been having a great time facilitating some Faith Shift Processing Parties in different cities this Winter and Spring. Portland and Nashville so far in January and next up is Seattle and Phoenix, and just added Berkeley at American Baptist Seminary of the West, yeah! If you are in any of those areas and want to come play, here are the details.
One of the best parts for me is getting to meet some people I have known online in real life, hang out with some dear friends, and make new ones, too. To me, there’s nothing better than in-the-flesh!
The stories are all so beautiful and raw and tender and hard and brave.
And one thing I’ve been even more reminded is that there’s an incredible amount of sincerity out there when it comes to faith–so many dedicated, sincere, faithful, true Jesus people who are trying to find their way as their faith shifts, often with little or no support (and a lot of times with a bunch of resistance!).
I keep hearing the same theme weaved throughout different conversations: most everyone isn’t “done” when it comes to faith.
It’s just that they’re “done” when it comes to where they’ve been and not sure what that means for the future.
I think sometimes the “dones” are misperceived. It sounds as if we don’t care anymore or if leaving is a simple solution. The truth is, getting to that point was usually a long, weird, windy road that came with a lot of grief, pain, instability, and loss. While ambivalence and a sense of odd freedom can come at the end of feeling “done” with church-and-faith-as-we-knew-it, it doesn’t mean there’s no sense of caring anymore.
Many just care about different things that a lot of people in church circles aren’t talking about.
I always say, “the world is crying out for hope, while we’re talking about theology” in an effort to remember that so many of our theological conversations seem big to us but are actually not-even-on-the-radar for the majority of the population of the world who are trying to feed their families and make it through the day. In a similar vein, I’d say, “While we’re spinning our wheels talking about who’s in and who’s out and who’s right and who’s wrong, a whole bunch of people have moved on and are creating the kingdom of God in all kinds of beautiful & simple & surprising ways.”
Here are some things that I keep hearing that men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and experiences seem to be “done” with:
- Church services where you sit in pews, look forward, sing some songs, and listen to someone tell you what the Bible says.
- Passivity in response to injustice.
- Fighting over the same issues over and over again and never getting anywhere new.
- Church as a place to go.
- Unhealthy systems that perpetuate dysfunction and misappropriated power.
- People telling us how and where and when our gifts can be used.
- Lack of diverse and robust spiritual formation that takes into account practice & senses & experience & a wider view of God’s creativity.
- Surface conversations.
- Systems that don’t fully include LBGQT friends and family.
- Churches that continually disempower women.
- Controlling leaders.
- Simple, trite, scripturized answers to complicated questions.
- “But the Bible says…”
- Apathy and the church only serving itself.
- Christian buzzwords that mean nothing in the real world.
- Homogeneous groups where everyone looks the same, acts the same, believes the same.
- “Right belief” over practice, law over love.
- Worshipping the Bible instead of following Jesus.
I’m 100% sure there are so many more, and I’d love to hear what you would add.
Despite so many I know being done with all or some of these, I am also struck by what people do, indeed, seem to care about and are longing for and sometimes desperate to find to no avail.
These are the things it seems like a lot of people I know really care about these days, in no particular order:
- Equality for all not in words but in action and systemic change.
- Deep and meaningful community.
- Diversity and friendship and connection with people across typical divides.
- Integrating mind and body and soul into our spiritual disciplines.
- Wrestling with the Bible–or at least staring at it and considering wrestling with it again.
- Two way relationships where we receive and give as equals.
- Dignified dialogue in safe spaces.
- Jesus-centered practices and initiatives that help restore dignity and call out God’s image in others.
- Discovering renewed images of God.
- Truly agenda-free friendships.
- Robust theological conversations where no one’s trying to convince anyone of anything but a place to listen and learn and consider and wonder and be curious.
- Not knowing all kinds of spiritual things anymore and being okay with that.
- Living systems.
- New forms of “church” without the trappings.
- Paths to rebuild faith after so much of it has unraveled.
- How to love God, others, ourselves and be loved by God, others, ourselves.
What do you care about still?
I’ve heard all of these in the past few months in some shape or form, and they bring me hope and remind me that I’m not alone in my done-with-what-was and a continued trek toward what-is-and-what-could-be.
I think those are some pretty challenging things worth caring about.
I’m glad so many aren’t done with that.
I know I’m not.