As the Emerging Spirit project winds down I have been re-visiting some of the early research findings that we probably did not mine extensively enough. We abbreviated them to the sentence “People outside the church find religious people to be judgemental, arrogant and unwilling to listen.” We later tacked on that they also find much of what happens in church to be boring and irrelevant to their life.
It is important to note that this is not a mis-understanding or a media creation but is almost always based on personal experience.
At the Stepping Further Out event held at Highlands United Church, Vancouver, on November 6th, 2010 I played the video “Judged” to emphasize that many still experience judgement from church people.
In discussion following the presentation the question was raised as to which sentiment was more powerful to people on the West Coast – church as judgemental or church as boring. What a choice! Many may experience the church as irrelevant but for those who have been wounded by church people that pain continues to vibrate.
It is interesting that a church in Texas, Christ Covenant Church, is engaging this reality head on, made public confession and is now turning it into an outreach opportunity, called “What a Bunch of jerks!”
The church then goes on to invite people into a four week conversation exploring the virtues of Jesus that the church has overlooked.
Besides being good marketing, there feels like wisdom there somewhere.
For congregations job 1 is to Live like Christians. For leaders, the task is to lead a change in congregational culture. This is the biggest and the toughest piece of work facing United Church of Canada leaders.