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Around the Parish April 4th, 2019

Sisters and Brothers,

In an article in the March 27th edition of Christian Century, Adam Copeland admits that he and his wife have struggled to find a church home. In the early stages of their marriage, the couple moved multiple times. Now that they have settled in their current town, they have not found a church that fits.

Adam claims that they visited several churches and here are samples of what they experienced:

Visit 1: They were given a gold "visitor" badge to wear and were made to stand so they could be recognized. It was embarrassing.

Visit 2: The service started with an overly enthusiastic "Good Morning" shouted from a microphone.

Visit 5: The church was progressive and diverse, but was so small that the couple felt that the visit felt "intense." He states that it felt that the church folks were almost begging them to stay because they "needed" them for survival.

Visit 8: This church visit revealed nothing annoying, but also nothing inspiring. It was just too comfortable. But the problem is that it wasn't any more inspiring than other things Adam enjoyed doing.

Adam stated that he wished they could find a church like they experienced "back then" - in another time, in another location. There were always other churches, other experiences that they held up for comparison.

In a blog, Tim Brown, a Lutheran pastor pointed out that congregations will always fall short. He states: "You're going to join the wrong church, or have the wrong pastor because our ideas of what makes a 'right one' are romantic." At some point your church home will no doubt be a place of "disappointment, difficult change, and dissatisfaction."

He goes on to point out that the value of a faith community is that they are places that are, "about loving each other into a different way of being."

Sometimes we simply set ourselves up for disappointment because we are always comparing our faith community to an unrealistic "romantic" vision or perhaps a fond memory of the past. Sometimes we simply need to grieve the loss of a memory or let go of our lofty notions and simply dig in and get involved and make our current community "home."

And sometimes, given the experiences that Adam and his wife had, we need to be mindful of how visitors perceive us when they visit.

There are right ways and there are wrong ways to welcome newcomers. And there are right expectations and wrong expectations of what our experience amidst a community of faith should be.


Fr. Dewayne

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