I Wish More Churches Observed This Convenient Fiction: Outsiders Are Among Us
Outsiders seeking truth won’t settle for bland spirituality
Our church is at its best when we say to ourselves there are people here kicking the tires of Christianity. I think it can be true, but in the church I attend, I rarely meet anyone who has not already bought the car. Still—don’t we all keep kicking the tires?
Saying there are outsiders lets us drop the clichés and insider language. It lets us jettison the assumptions about being good or put together. It makes us all a bit less stodgy and a bit more honest. Even the most deeply devoted person keeps thinking through the issues of her or his life where they are still kicking the tires: can I trust God in an economy that keeps swirling in the toilet? Or to guide my grown-up kid to make good choices? Can I still trust God when (perhaps) more years lie behind me than before me? Life constantly changes, of course. There is always more living than there is faith to meet the next challenge. But then we watch together for how God intervenes even with faith to move forward.
I like boiling down clichés and disposing of the club mentality that insider language inevitably fosters. But this is not the same as the traditional understanding of seeker-sensitive, where actual content is tossed aside in favor of a bland spirituality. No, Christianity has some barbs that are difficult to understand and hard to come to peace with. The key is to present the barbs honestly and admit we struggle with them too. All while hearing regularly from the ancient texts that have always informed the church. That is a text that speaks to any outsider willing to listen–and is the time-honored antidote to bland spirituality.