After spending some time last week with faithful people who have special concerns about orthodoxy and what it means to have a right belief, I find myself – more than ever – wanting church to be a community in which it’s safe to grapple with our faith.
As I’ve written before, Phyllis Tickle has shared that one of the shifts in the church is this:
The 1950s church experienced a Believe-Behave-Belong model of church. It was assumed that everyone believed the same thing, they behaved accordingly, and then finally they could belong. In some communities (you know who you are) one could be part of a congregation for decades and not really belong. You could only truly belong if you could trace family membership back a couple generations.
The 21st Century church experiences more of a Belong-Behave-Believe model. People yearn more than ever to belong to a community especially in these days when we tend to live away from family and find ourselves in an unfamiliar city or town. In this community we learn how the community behaves, and finally we come to believe. Gone are the assumptions that everybody’s grown up attending Sunday School and having family devotionals. I find that many of those coming through the doors of church buildings are trying to figure out what they believe. They may have grown up in no church or in a church that fell short in the spiritual nourishment department.
And so we grapple together these days.
All I’m writing here is old news to most of you, but it’s essential to remember that the 21st Century Church culture needs to make room for people to have a safe place to ask questions, express doubts, and ponder together about The Holy. The church that fearfully squelches these conversations is missing the point. We are like a First Century culture again. This is not to say that there is no Truth. But we must welcome people who are seeking Truth in a postmodern world.
The photo above is of an encased grappling hook with accompanying grappling memories given to me by Holy Grounds, a community I love, that grappled with me on issues of faith and life.