Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Perfect Church, or Place of Hope and Healing?

Oh look, the perfect family at the Perfect Church!

You might recall I have been thinking recently about the concept of "The Perfect Church". I had an interesting conversation with a friend today on the phone (again not accomplishing anything for the American economy). He has recently moved churches, in a situation similar to our family, and has found a new church home in which his children, aged 11 and 9, can thrive. As for he and his wife, well, that is another matter. Seems this church does not really believe in leadership roles for women, and might be a bit autocratic in its leadership styling. Well, imagine that. And you thought dancing and drinking were bad news!

My friend made a comment during our chat that caught me off guard, but was actually quite generous in its tone. He said,
"We have learned to lower our expectations. What we are looking for is a
place where our kids can learn and grow in a healthy, nuturing place with good
Christian ed. As for my wife and I, the expectations are different. We are really just looking for something that is not really bad! If we approach it that way, we can't be that disappointed".
As I have reflected on this, I have two strains of thought, in keeping with my slightly bi-polar personality.

First, maybe it is alright for us to lower our expectations. Wait, maybe its ok for ME to lower MY expectations. I have high ones you know. Just ask my kids! Sheesh....Daaaad, give me a break. Perhaps I am too judgmental, and I demand too much from the church. Maybe its a result of going to school where expectations have always been high. Or maybe, because I know some really good pastors, who have really healthy churches. Or maybe its that darn wonderful seminary near our house, where so many of our friends have gone, and we continue to meet outstanding people. I need to relax. Lower the bar, slack off, take it easy. Mellow out, dude.

But wait a second here. Maybe we need to think more about our expectations. Seems that some famous church fathers have, in the past, in letters to some rather wacky congregations. Are we to settle for "not really bad"? With St Paul I have to shout, "Certainly not!" Perhaps we have to raise the bar, demand more from Christian community, and work hard to achieve authentic communities where people can discover a way of life and a gathering of believers that points the way to a remarkable Savior.

Coming next....discussion of how we might begin to do that....
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