I grieve because the church doesn’t like thinking people.
The church is no place for a thinking person. That’s been made perfectly clear.
It was all so much easier during my previous life as Southern Baptist homeschooler. My parents and church told me exactly what God’s position on everything was and I wasn’t afraid to go out and blast people with the love of God which could reach anybody who knew all the answers and behaved themselves. Long story short, that lasted until college, when my faith was simply worn out. I just couldn’t hold on any longer.
My faith was transformed by a fresh encounter with grace. At that point, I had to turn loose of my black-and-white faith. It was so very rich, but it made me realize I didn’t quite fit in anymore.
I think teaching should be one of the primary responsibilities of the church, but not in the conventional understanding of teaching. As a teacher myself, I’ve had to learn that the job is not about disseminating information to young minds, it’s about turning young minds into minds that can think for themselves.
I’m not looking for intellectual elitism, I want a community where questions are allowed. I’m not just looking for “head” knowledge, but minds that are fully engaged with hearts. I’m not looking for easy, pat, black-and-white answers to every question, I’m looking for a place where questions turn into conversations.
When I look at the person of Jesus, I see a man who wasn’t afraid of skeptics, didn’t get squeamish around people with “gross” sins or emotions, and loved all kinds of people pervasively. But most churches I’ve been a part of are places where tough conversations go to die. Skeptics aren’t welcome. Questions are discouraged.
Here are things that I need the church to offer:
- I want theology, not self-help.
- I want be shaped by conversations, not indoctrination.
- I want to be led by thinking people.
- I want the church to stop calling my questions “bad” or calling me “bad” for even having those questions in the first place.
- I want the church to stop trying to reach me where I am and call me into something greater.
- I want the church to expect something out of me besides money and compliance.
- I want to participate in the long, rich tradition of Christian liturgy, not Christianized variations on American Idol.
- I want mindful sacredness, not accidental profanity.
I’m not saying we should be apologetic for our beliefs. We should just be holding them with an open hand. The God we serve will not be threatened if we leave the security of our faith up to him. In fact, I’ve found my faith has been made so much stronger when I’ve been willing to
Very honestly, this is not an easy issue for the church to encounter. It will run the risk of alienating some people who prefer being spoon-fed, but we won’t run the risk of alienating a generation that needs to ask questions. If the church is to actually be the church, we simply must be willing to think – and be willing to allow others that same privilege.