February 18, 2007

Community of Faith

A bunch of us went to go see Rob Bell on thursday, up at UK in Lexington. He was late; apparently, his flight was cancelled, so he had to drive from Michigan. Later, he said "I have seen Ohio." I know what he means.

Anyway, the purpose of his little talk was supposedly to introduce his new book. He gets out on stage (late) and says that he wrote this book so that he wouldn't have to talk about it; if he wanted to talk about it, he'd talk about it, but he wrote it, so we should go read it. Then he said that he was more interested in what we had to say, so he told us to ask him anything. People did, and it was fantastic.

On the way home, Dan asked Liz and me the one question we've been sort of dreading from people. We knew it was coming, eventually, but at least I still hadn't come up with a good way to articulate my answer to the question.

"So guys, have you looked at churches yet?"

There was a short, slightly uncomfortable silence as I, driving, tried to formulate an answer which I thought maybe he'd agree with. I don't like conflict very much, which is a problem because I hold a lot of opinions that aren't very popular. "No," I started, not sure where to go from there. But Liz picked it up and I liked her answer a lot.

She explained that we are "church shy" at the moment. It's not that we think that church or churches are bad, or that people that go to churches are bad. It's just that we're musicians, and especially musicians like us - who have professional training - are the sort in high demand at churches these days. We'd get sucked in and have the life drained from us (mostly because we have a very hard time saying 'no'), no energy left to have a child or learn at seminary or spend time with each other. Worship arts is a stressful department to be in these days, and we're just not sure we want to do that anymore.

That, and we just came from a place where church wasn't a place we had to go. Mimos is a family to us, and we're fairly sure that no church - and believe me, there are plenty - is going to be like that.

He seemd to accept that, which was kind of him, as Liz and I were both nervous trying to explain it. Around here it's very counter-cultural to be Christians who don't go to a church on sunday (or even saturday night). When I did some demographics research for my senior thesis in college, out of my sample of 30 different counties across the US, Jessamine County (where Wilmore resides) was the only one with a zero-atheism rate (and very low populations of non-protestant religions). In other words, there are no self-reported atheists here. This could mean two things:

1) there are no atheists in Wilmore
2) there are no atheists who are willing to admit they are atheists in Wilmore

I find the second more likely, given the seminary, the bible college, and the hundreds of churches around here. In this culture, you're a Christian, you go to church on sunday, and that's just that.

But there's another reason we see no need to start going church-shopping. I'm a seminary student. We aren't eschewing a community of faith by not going to church; our community of faith is already built-in! Asbury seminary is a phenomenal place, full of very devoted Jesus-followers, and frankly what other community do we need? We've already begun making friends here in Broadhurst, people who we'll see on a regular basis. I'm learning a LOT about God and His kingdom through my classes (and Liz is through me).

Frankly, I'd rather use my time NOT at seminary to do something more productive than "go to church" ... again ... something like help refugees, or feed the poor, go to coffee shops and root out the atheists and make friends with them (you can't discuss evolution with a cultural-Christian, it's just boring). There are so many other things to do, things that Liz and I want to be available for, that going to (another) church will simply take time away from. Things like working, and being missionaries at work; dinner and fellowship with other seminary couples; time with each other.

What do you think? Are we nuts?


Christop said...

Yes, yous are nuts! Yeah!

Sal said...

You are most definately nuts! I would say pecans to specific... what is it they say about asking a stupid question??
Nah, You already know how I feel on this particular topic, so ofcourse you have my 100% support all the way.

Mikaserla said...

Wow, you get around. Australia to Kentucky. You are living on the edge. Good luck with your studies.