In continuation of the conversation about what happens to your own sense of doctrine when calling takes you outside the church?
(The first part of this series can be read by clicking here if you missed it).
What happens when you don’t have a denomination or a presbytery or bishop or association telling you to stay within these lines of thought and worship practice (at least publicly that is)?
What happens when you don’t have to worry about losing your job if you cross the line just a little to far in your writing or speaking?
What happens to your own sense of faith then? What happens to your own church attendance record?
Such are questions I feel like I’ve been living into this year with this new sense of calling on my life.
I no longer attend church on Sundays because I have to. I attend because I want to.
I no longer do service activities because it is something that my church asks me to do, I do things because it is just who I am.
I no longer tow the “this is what my denomination believes” card. In the spiritual community I have around me, we wrestle together.
Not that I’ve ever really been the kind of person who was shut down by those who want to silence my questionings, but to be in a place where my income (i.e. ability to pay the mortgage) is not dependent on what a particular church or a denominational group of churches thinks about what I believe can only be summed up in one word: freedom.
So dang freeing.
Most days now feel like living into the exhortation from Galatians: “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.”
It’s been a season of life for me to once and for all put aside the voices in my head from my evangelical upbringing that say things like:
“Christianity is about going to church every Sunday” or “Christianity can’t be found outside the church.”
And in the midst of this freedom, I’m having lots of new questions about the role of the church in faith. Questions like: “Is spiritual, Jesus-centric community only found in a group of people who get together in a church building on Sunday morning or other times of the week?”
I realize by saying this aloud, I’m on the edge of the heretic zone for some of you.
You’ll be getting out the Bible and start quoting passages from Corinthians to me about the foundational principles of church as shared with us by Paul.
“You’re a pastor? You can’t say these things!”
Ok, I hear you already.
But this is my point: as my own sense of calling has taken me out of the church, I’ve often found the “church” in what seems nothing like what I’ve ever known before. And I don’t need the church to say I’m right or wrong here. It just is.
Church comes to me in conversations over lemonade or Diet Coke when people of completely different spiritual backgrounds somehow land on common ground.
Church comes to me over Skype conversations with my friend in Africa who reminds me that no matter what, I’m loved unconditionally.
Church comes to me when my best friend in Tennessee talks to me about how she’s teaching her 2 year old to pray prayers of thanksgiving.
Church comes to me when I’m standing with Kevin at a Feed The Children food drop giving can goods and life essential products to neighbors in need.
What about you? Where do you find church? Where are you struggling with issues of doctrine and spirituality that somehow get tangled in the word we’ve labeled “church”?