I never considered church scary until I was no longer welcomed in with arms opened wide. I never thought church could be uncomfortable until I walked through the door after being asked to step down from my leadership roles when they found out I was dating a woman. I never imagined church could be anything other than a safe haven full of ridiculously fun games at youth group and fantastic (though perhaps theologically concerning) music.
My church was my home.
Some of my friends tried to tell me. They tried to explain the shame and fear and heartache they experienced in the same sacred building where I discovered restoration. But I couldn’t hear it. I didn’t want to hear that my experience was not everyone’s experience; that my favorite place in the world was someone else’s least favorite. I didn’t want to know that the place where I found God was capable of causing my friends to all but lose their faith–whatever type of faith they had.
Looking back now, I can see how much I hurt others by not listening to them, by insisting church could be good for them too if only they would keep trying. I never realized how painful and detrimental that can be for a person–until that person being broken apart and shaved down in order to fit into a pretty little box was me. Maybe it’s been you too.
Let me be clear: I don’t say this out of anger. I don’t hate the Church. I love the Church–despite our rocky past. I say these things because I still love the Church deeply and I know we can do better. I am not condemning; I am challenging. Challenging us all–the Body of Christ–to be more loving, more radically welcoming; to be more like Jesus.
This is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s not about watering down the Gospel or “cherry-picking” the parts of the Bible we like. This is about how to best represent the God-Man we claim to be following. It’s about how to become the true Body of Christ, the one God was envisioning at the beginning of time, the one not at all homogenous but which reflects the glorious Kingdom of God.
It is beyond time to start #MakingRoomOnThePew. Join me, won’t you?