Monday, November 24, 2014
The Weekly Church Checkup
I usually brush my teeth regularly, but on the days leading up to my appointment, I began to brush them a lot more. Like three times a day. I flossed extra. I made sure I was eating healthy snacks. I reduced my sugar intake greatly. I bought extra tooth polisher, and tooth whitener. I even fluoridated my teeth on my own. I did a whole lot of things leading up to my dental visit that I would not normally do, because I was nervous about the prognosis and the outcome from the dentist.
The thought occurred to me that many people, who have not attended church in a while, view visiting a church, with the same kind of nervous preparation. People who haven't attended church for a while will often do extra prayers before they attend, read up on their Bible, get their outfits in better shape, work extra hard on presenting their entire family in a best possible light.
People who haven't attended church in a while are often nervous about what the encounter will be like. Will the pastor tell me I need to do more work in my personal Christian "whitening" practices? Will I get beat up in the sermon, for not eating the right spiritual foods? Will the prayer time feel like a spiritual root canal? Will I be given a lecture about how I need to floss my soul more regularly? Will my visit to church be painful? Will it be unpleasant? Will it cost me a lot of money, since there may be a lot more spiritual surgical work that needs to be done?
And so, many, many people decide that they would rather just do without church, or God, or spirituality because they are worried about…
The Weekly Church Checkup
The truth is that some churches are a lot like a dental practice in the pain and guilt that they inflict on people who haven't visited in a while. I will never forget one church that I attended on occasion while I was a college student in Minnesota. When school first began, I went to church every week, but as the semester progressed, my attendance became much more fleeting. One morning I woke up, after a bit of a "crazy" (I was a college student after all) Saturday night. I told myself that I just needed God, and I needed church that day. What I could not face would be the phalanx of church people who would give me on the way in.
Sure enough, I was greeted at the door by a prying dental hygienist of an usher. "Well, well, well," she said, "we haven't seen you in while! Where have you been all this semester?" "Busy," I said. "You look like you might have been out last night. Kind of a crazy night, hugh?" "Not really, thanks for the bulletin. I'd like to sit in the back." "Those seats are all taken, there's a few in the front row," she said. As she guided me down the isle to my seat right beneath the pastor (not so different than being in a dental chair), I felt the glares of those who had perfect spiritual hygiene. As I sat down, she whispered, "We have a new program for college kids like you, who haven't attended church in a while, would you like information?" "Not really," I said. "Well, here's a brochure on how to keep your spiritual heart free from decay." I left wishing I hadn't come at all.
Church shouldn't be a weekly checkup, but a weekly affirmation of God's love in our lives.
Mission Street is striving to be that church. Our two main mottos are:
Come As You Are, and
No Perfect People Allowed
All For Now,