What ISN’T #MyKindaChurch?
This week we heard from an irreverent witch, a trans boi, a rule-breaker, a bi Latina, a cultural catholic kittenophile, and a skeptical polyamorous queer. When I think about these people, together, I can’t help but think Jesus would say something along the lines of, “The Reign of God is like……”
Folks with all kinds of intersections, from all kinds of walks of life, took a chance and shared with us what they need from the Church. Their answers were as diverse as they are, from wanting to be able to “celebrate the magic of Jesus” to being able to feel “embraced and nurtured.”
But I saw one thing that was present in each of them:
When we talk about #mykindachurch, it’s another way of talking about what the church, presently, is not.
That means, church folks, when we read #mykindachurch, so often we are reading about the ways that the church has failed.
In a place where we sing hymns like, “All Are Welcome”, we have folks saying they need a church where they aren’t made to feel, “out of place.” We have folks crying out in pain that they have been made to feel a “need to leave out, shut off, or pretend.” We have people who name that they have been hurt or traumatized by the church, that the church is responsible for their baggage, that the church hasn’t respected their boundaries.
We have pleas for a space where people can be truly authentic. Completely present.
And the fact that we have so many people asking for it? That means that it isn’t happening.
“Hold on.” You might be thinking, “#notALLchurches. My church marches in Pride. My pastor is preaching on MLK this weekend. We greet new visitors. All ARE welcome in our place of worship.”
When we talk about the failures of the Church, it is easy to take it personally, to become defensive of the institution that we love. It’s easy for “progressive” mainline protestants to look at Evangelical or Fundamentalist traditions and say, “THEY are the problem. WE aren’t like that.”
The thing is that many of the people I’ve talked with through #mykindachurch ARE connected to progressive mainline churches. They ARE talking about us. There’s a disconnect here, a lack of self awareness for those of us in the church, about the way we truly act and are perceived by the very people we tokenize and brag about including.
Fellow church folks, I invite you to read #mykindachurch in a spirit of reflection and even repentance. When you are together with your church councils and Bible studies visioning for the future, instead of hypothesizing about what kinda church people are craving, ask them. Seek out the voices of the most marginalized in your communities, the ones hurt by the church, the skeptics. Ask about their kinda church.
And then take risks to make it happen.