When I think of some of the people I’ve met in churches… for that matter, some of the LEADERS of churches I’ve met, I shudder at the thought of being around them again. Can I be brutally honest – “Christians” really suck sometimes. There was a time when the ONLY “Christians” I was meeting were the kind who believed in grace for themselves and judgment for everyone else.
I suppose it’s easy to be judgmental when you are living in a vacuum. When all of your friends are out of the exact same mold, and when no one in your immediate group ever rocks the boat. Because some of the ideas floating around in churches are beyond wacky and stupid.
I went to a church… ok, several, but one in particular that really emphasized “speaking in tongues.” Now, I am enough of a believer in the Bible that I believe Pentacost did actually happen – and those people really did speak in languages they didn’t know. Yes, I have no trouble believing that.
I DO, however, have trouble believing that the girl who 5 minutes ago passed judgment on me for my hairstyle has now inexplicably been chosen by the holy spirit to speak in tongues. It’s especially difficult for me to believe when I know for a fact that every doggone person at that church makes exactly the same gibberish sounds when they “speak in tongues.”
However, wouldn’t you know – almost EVERY one of the people in this church who had been there for a while began speaking in tongues eventually. I literally watched leaders in the church COACH people about how to do it: “just start out by blabbing and then the holy spirit will take over.” Ok, that’s not only weird and wrong, it’s hilarious!
But back to my point. There were numerous people in that church who looked upon me with pity and/or judgment because I refused to allow peer pressure to make me pretend to speak in tongues. And yes, I said pretend. They are fooling only themselves – and each other.
That’s just one silly example of how peer pressure and mob mentality can create a bunch of mindless automatons who soak up BS and then judge those who don’t fall for it.
All that to say, when Jenna first started trying to drag me to church, I wanted no part of it. All churches seem reasonable the first couple times you visit them. I was SURE that Jenna was just being naive. I even warned her to guard herself so she wouldn’t be attacked for some silly reason. I didn’t want to see her getting hurt or turned off of her… dare I say it?… childlike faith. (to quote the Bible)
But I ultimately went, not for me, but to make her happy (partly) and to protect her (partly). She assured me this church was different.
After 18 months, I can tell you that Mercy Church is not like that. The church lives up to the name. I have never felt anything but warmth and care – not just from the pastor or the leaders – from every single person there. It’s a church of real people living in the real world with real problems. There’s no false pretense, no “higher standards” (what a retarded concept – higher standards – I feel a separate post coming on).
Now I’m heavily involved in this church, excited about their mission, and excited to help them execute it. My personal mission is to do everything I can to help Mercy Church keep that culture, even as it ramps up the messages and steps on people’s toes. There is a lot of pride, hatefulness, and judgmentalism floating around out there, and it’s about time there was an antidote. Last year the church did a sermon series called “God Loves Gays.” Really!
Here’s a quote from the website: “One important thing to know about Mercy Church is that we do not get into the legalistic judgmental stuff that is sadly such a part of Christianity. We love God and love people, period! No one at Mercy Church will look sideways at you for any reason … well actually, they will look at you funny if you act like you are perfect and if you act holier-than-thou-super-spiritual… but only then!”
Mercy Church Come and visit when you’re in KC (and make sure you look for me… I’ll be the bald guy holding the bass!).