God has many that the church does not have, and the church has many that God does not have. ~ Augustine
Even though it is totally embarrassing to be labeled an “evangelical” Christian today, mostly because of the politicization of organized religion and because there are so many crazies on the religious right. (I know. I’m not helping by saying that.)
But seriously, it’s plain mortifying to be considered “evangelical” most days especially if you turn on cable television whether it’s MSNBC or Fox “news.”
Still I have been attending mine for more than ten years and have good reasons to stay at my evangelical church.
Sojourners Magazine does a good job of describing the type of evangelical Christian that I consider myself to be. I care about racial and social justice, the environment, human rights, having a consistent life ethic and trying to be a peacemaker. I do not always succeed.
The truth is there is no perfect church.
But I think there is an ignorance and arrogance to think that you do not need a church home.
I’ve already written once at least, that I can remember, about what I love about my church. It’s here, titled I Like My Church. They Don’t Tell Me What to Think. But Rachel Held Evans the author of Evolving in Monkeytown is discussing why she left the church and why she has returned. In a response to this, I replied. I’ve expanded it here.
Why I stay in church?
These are not in any order but how they toppled out of my brain.
- A significant reason that I stay at my church (even though it has grown into a mega-church since we’ve been there) is because they don’t take sides on political issues. They teach what the Bible says and they intentionally stay away from hot “issues.” This shows great maturity and wisdom, in my opinion.
- I also stay at my church because although they are more conservative on women than I would like, they love and accept me as I am. (If you are regular reader of my blog, you know that I can be a sometimes ranting, sometimes angry and frustrated, and sometimes hurt feminist, a misfit in the evangelical church.) I stay because I believe as I grow into God’s grace, I may be heard since the message isn’t mine, but the truth of Jesus. I stay because although the “church govt. structures (being a part of a denomination)” haven’t caught up with their beliefs, what they are practicing is an affirmation of women fully using their gifts and abilities and serving out of those God given gifts, almost.
- I stay because there are people in my church that are spiritually alive and actively living out their faith, who love Jesus and express that through loving one another, in order to reach our community. I see it every day. It is beautiful. It’s radical. It is only from God.
- I stay because of the community that I have found within a smaller group which buoys my faith, prays for one another, serves our community together, confesses sin and accepts one another quite unconditionally.
- I stay because they have a solid biblical hermeneutic, one that I can believe in. They don’t read the Bible literally, thank God!
- They encourage questions and regularly say that there are varied perspectives and interpretations. Amen!
- Their position on science, faith and creation which fits under number five, but is important enough to me to be it’s own reason. (I’ve listed some links to talks below.)
- I stay because through the study of scripture, through learning in community, through developing a life of devotion I am being transformed. I am not the same person.
Everything I write about the spiritual life here on my blog, and I do all the time, it is because of what I am learning, how I am being challenged to grow and develop, because of these things.
This is why, I regularly thank God for my church even though there is no perfect church including mine. Why are you at your church? Or why not?