October 14, 2009


God has drenched my heart in lighter fluid and handed me a flame.

Driving on 1-40 last friday with my sister, I had the privilege of seeing this billboard:

Needless to say, it sparked some good conversation between us . . . which continued throughout the weekend.

My sister was very honest with me about her frustrations with organized religion, churches, and people who call themselves Christians.

People who judge and condemn her without trying to get to know her. People who tell her that she's going to hell because she has tattoos. People telling her that she's going to hell because she has a pet snake. Because she believes in creation and evolution together. Because of the way she dresses.

People who take the Bible out of context and choose to use it as a weapon. People who shout hellfire and brimstone on anyone who doesn't fit the mold or agree with everything they say.

At a time in her life when she most needed the church, they recoiled from my sister, turned their back and withdrew any acceptance or support from her.

Her stories made me think of things my ex-boyfriend, who is agnostic, told me.

His experiences were not unlike hers. People judging him before they got to know him, encountering Christians who were fake-nice - perhaps with a hidden agenda.

He was in a church where he heard the pastor say - it's not enough to have faith, you have to make other people believe.

He was also frustrated with Christians who lived under the religious facade - people who thought they were better than him because they warmed up a pew on a Sunday morning and made themselves look beautiful on the outside.

These things not only enrage, but bring great sorrow to me.

How many people turn away from God because of churches and people who call themselves Christians? How many people are being fed lies and deception? People will give up on their search to know their creator because of experiences like my sister's and my ex's. How many people are scarred and burned the same way they have been?

These are the people that my heart is burdened for . . . that my soul is stirred for.

It's time for a change . . .

The church should be a place where the wounded and the weary can find rest. Where the lost and seeking can find refuge.

I want to be part of such a church - if she can exist.

A place that has open arms - calling to the abandoned, the beaten, the burned. A place that is non-judgemental and non-threatening. Welcomes you as you are. No hidden agenda.

A place where it's OK if you have questions and doubts (after all, I still have questions and doubts - and so did the people in the Bible - what kind of faith would we have if we never questioned?).

A place where you don't have to fit the mold, and you don't feel pressured to have it all together.

A place where people don't look at you funny for your blue hair, tattoos, strange clothes or current circumstance - they see your value as another human being. A place where you're not a project or a number - people genuinely care about you.

If you have a pet snake, if you like vampires and books by Steven King, who cares? If you're from a different socioeconomic status, different background, different ethnicity, that does not change things either.

We're all in the same boat, on the same playing field.

A place where we accept you as you are . . . and invite you to learn with us, to grow with us.

A place where atheists, agnostics and the searching feel comfortable. A place where your questions, fears, doubts are all welcomed. Where you are encouraged to be seeking.

We want to hear your stories, your journey and your frustrations.

I want to be part of a church that my sister, my ex, my old roommates and old co-workers would want to come to. A place where people who don't look like me or think like me want to come. And not only do they feel welcomed and accepted, but they feel like they belong.

So . . . what now? I want to see communities and lives changed, renewed, redeemed. I want to see cities transformed. I want to be a part of it.

It's not enough for me to sit here and dream, blog and read books by Donald Miller and Rob Bell. I want to take action. I want to move.

I want to see this become a reality. I want to look back in 10 years and say that 2009 was the year that God started a movement.

1 comment:

  1. Well, first of all, I think Tracy rocks. And I know she's lucky to have you for a sister. I'm lucky just to have had you as a neighbor! (And a good friend, of course). I hear ya, it makes me so mad to see people judging like that, and I get pretty ticked....then I start judging those judgy people too! So I get caught up in the judging. The key, I guess, is just love. Christ knew that. YOU totally know that, you are one of the most loving people I know! And when I get frustrated thinking that I can't change the world, I remember that Christ did it one person at a time. He didn't preach to people on every continent while he lived on the earth, but through his small and loving actions, people on every continent know of his teachings now. So don't give up on that movement, Sarah.


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