Tuesday, July 1, 2008

They like Jesus...

After months of recommendations from my friend and partner-in-crime Jeanie, I finally got around to starting Dan Kimball's "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church." I'm about halfway though at this point and finding myself resonating with a lot of what Kimball has to say.

His point is that many in the "emerging generations" (those between 20-35) are really open to Jesus and his message, but not the church or what they view as organized Christianity.

This is something I've thought about for years on a personal basis, and something I ponder a lot when I run. How is it that the Christ I read about in Scriptures seems so different from the image I see projected in the larger church?

I wonder how it is that I've stuck around when so many of my friends have given up on the church. I used to think it was because I grew up in the church and have always been familiar with the mess. But as I've pondered this question recently, I've realized it has far more to do with who I am than my background. I can't walk away from problems. If there is any hope whatsoever, I cling to it and fight to make the hope a reality. I'm not necessarily good at it -- truth is, I'm a coward -- but I long to be a proponent of all that is good in Christianity and inject that back into the church.

I'm lucky in that I am part of a fantastic congregation. My pastors are true examples of what I believe Christianity is all about. As Coach Rod pointed out at a recent meeting, our church -- at its best -- is a place of grace. It encourages the messy kind of faith that I love; the kind of faith that is strong, but realizes it isn't always right. The kind of faith that is open to dialogue, correction and disagreement. 

I've privileged because I've seen enough of the good to know that it is worth facing the bad -- even when the bad is a big, ugly mess.