Wednesday

to pretend i'm a contemplative monk and quote winnie the pooh



tut tut, it looks like rain.

no really, it does and that is pretty awesome since california is in the middle of this terrible drought.
it's supposed to storm for the rest of the week and into the weekend and
i am totally okay with it.

the dark skies out the window are phenomenal, beckoning the world to shut up and
pay attention.  it's good.  i like paying attention to those things that are real,
like rain and thunder and stars and birds and trees.  but i'm all natural like that.



sometimes i think i should have been born a contemplative monk.  i mean, i know i shouldn't,
i am who i am supposed to be but,
sometimes.  i'm reading thomas merton right now and i keep thinking,
yep.  yep,  yep.



i find it funny that so many of the things my husband and i do or think gets ridiculed but
when i read all those early christian folk they sound so similar.  they asked the same questions,
came to the same conclusions, walked the same roads.  and they were celebrated for
thinking differently.  so, you know.

maybe we are not that weird after all.

Monday

to leave the church but not leave Christ

 **disclaimer: if you still want to like me then you might want to skip this post. fyi ;) **

So apparently Donald Miller,
whom I love,
wrote a couple posts about not going to church
to which a whole bunch of Christian bloggers responded negatively
saying he is wrong, he's lost, he's blah blah blah.
Personally, my favorite response was this totally pharisaical post
called Leaving the church means leaving Christ.

I don't really like making waves, I prefer to stay out of controversy,
I want this space to be a welcoming, peaceful place.  But this one just
hit home and I can't help but respond.  I tried to comment on the post but
the author actually rejected my comment.  So I'm writing about it here.

See, there's this one thing that the author of the leaving church post and
many other churchgoers in general just don't get: by leaving the
institutional church we are not leaving The Church.  Those of us who no longer
attend a church service believe, just as the rest of you do, that

a. The Church is the Bride of Christ
b. The Church is made up of many different members and we all need each other
c. Believers should not forsake meeting together, worshipping, praying, etc.

What we don't believe is that the institutional church and The Church are one and the same.
Or that meeting together has to mean sitting next to each other on pews in a service. 
Or that the structure we have designed in our churches today is the "right way."
By not attending church we are not "leaving Christ," and someone making such a broad,
judgmental, blanket statement is totally disturbing. 

As Christians, we are a part of The Church but that has absolutely nothing to do with
attending institutional church services and it is really doing a disservice to the unity and
fellowship of The Church when it is taught and believed that church attendance is a requirement
for following Christ.

I leave you with this, a post from my defunct blog Feathers and Hope that explains our decision to leave the institutional church:





We come from church.
From hip, young, “relevant,”
“come as you are,”
lift up your hands, lay hands,
“everybody gets to play,”
worship at a rock concert,
being the cool pastor,
conferences,
laughter, hang outs,
church.
It was our life,
our home, our comfort.
It gave us vision, gave us purpose.
It opened doors and spoke affirming words.

We left the church. Contrary to popular belief,
we were not hurt by the institutional church.
We are not frustrated because we can’t find perfection or
a place that shares all of our views.
We have not been burnt out, abused, disillusioned or
any of that stuff that the church thinks
typically accompanies those who leave their institution.
We have always loved church and been warmly welcomed
into the church family everywhere we have been.
We have been embraced and helped by church family in our darkest times.
We have been housed and supported during unthinkable trials.
My husband, a single father at 15, who worked full time to
support his son and had no education, but was
gifted in wisdom and teaching,
was supported and lifted up by church family, and
welcomed as a pastor.
We have been taken in, though strangers, as family.
Loved, supported and trained to church plant.
People have poured themselves, their time,
energy and resources out
for us.
We have lifted hands and laid hands on,
we have served and been served,
worshiped, laughed, loved.
We have long been in the institutional church and
have experienced family.

So no, we were not hurt and we were not disappointed by people.
We loved church.
And yet, still, we left.
We left in order to hear God.
We left because the performance that the institution put on was so loud,
so distracting,
that the simple beauty which is the gospel,
the Love of God,
was drowned out.
We left because we looked around at the stage,
the rules,
the requirements and expectations,
the masquerading,
the pastor’s weekly performance,
the various focuses of various churches,
the putting away of children,
the bells and whistles.
We looked at them and couldn’t imagine the first Christians,
couldn’t imagine Christ,
participating.

“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice -oceans of it. I want fairness -rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.” Amos 5:21-24
The first Christians were family, they lived life together.
I imagine these early Christians would prefer gathering as often
as possible, in
various homes. I imagine one such home where
there is tri tip on the grill and
some people praying in the living room,
where a discussion is happening out back about the second coming and
no idea is shunned, not even that of the nine year old who is joining in,
where the Bible is read and talked about and there is laughter,
spontaneous music, children playing loudly and needs met. This is every day.
This is life. This is family.
And this is the Church as we see it.

So, we are not running away, not quitting,
not sulking or reacting.
We are merely pressing in, digging deeper, stripping away
everything that man has added to God’s message,
stripping down to bare bones, to the organic.
We are focused on Christ and Christ alone.



*if you are interested in really learning the roots of the modern church practices and considering a new {but old} way to be the church, please check out frank viola.