What? Me? No not me my sister…she asked me to help her track down a church so I started looking at websites and OMG the language on the sites alone was enough to make me want to give up and throw up all at the same time.
I have perhaps become cynical…which is unfortunate because I view cynicism as the greatest of sins but perhaps it is not too late to ratchet it back to mere skepticism.
Any how the church websites had all kinds of interesting bullets and snippets that made me back slowly away. Either the language was so desperately attempting to mimic what they thought people wanted to hear or it swung waaaaay to the other end of the spectrum where it came across a little like “We love Jesus. We love you. We love the Bible. There’s only one way and we built our church smack in the middle of it and if you can’t handle that than fuck you – otherwise welcome brother!”
There is so much modernist, churchy, culturally unfamiliar language and documentation it is as if the church websites are designed primarily for people who already have an understanding of ecclesiastical governance and hierarchy. Either that or they seemed as if they were written for morons – the equivalent of Church for Dummies (W e w i l l
s p e a k s l o w a n d u s e s m a l l w o r d s).
Having been separate from brick-and-mortar church for a while now it was not hard to push my M.Div and my pastoral past behind me for a bit and try to gaze at these sites with non-church eyes.
Things that annoyed me:
Statements of Faith: Both a help and a hindrance. They were helpful in the sense that every single one of them turned me off of that particular church. Many of them used gender exclusive language. Many of them whole-heartedly agreed that the sinfulness of all humanity created a need for God and then proceeded to write whole paragraphs about one or two specific subjects (I’m looking at you homosexuality and divorce) as if they were somehow the Christian version of capital murder compared with spitting in public (everything else).
There were wonderfully vague websites that had statements like “we’re a church about Jesus and NOT religion” – PUKE. Pander much?
I tried looking denominationally but this was unhelpful:
Baptist? No are you kidding?
Alliance? Been there done that
Reformed? Sorry my family is not Dutch or German
Catholic? I like your pope but your Sunday morning experience is too inaccessible
Anglican? Great faith…but the church is probably filled with senior citizens (sorry)
Pentecostal? Tongues alone would give them nightmares for years
Non-Denom (read conservative evangelical or charismatic here)? I don’t want to scare my family
If I learned anything it was that churches have HORRIBLE websites that make me NOT want to attend them. They either try WAAAAAY to hard or seem to be telling me to not even bother if I am even remotely human.
I was trying to find something along the lines of Solomon’s Porch (www.solomonsporch.com) which has a great statement (ironically) in that place you would expect a statement of faith:
“You will not find statements of what our community believes on this site. Belief is a dynamic, lived reality and doesn’t lend itself to website statements.”
Also their sanctuary is empty of pews and chairs and filled with couches and rugs and easy chairs and coffee tables and does not have a pulpit etc. It is a giant living room – a vision I once had (before Solomon’s Church I might add arrogantly) but I did not have the courage or strength of vision to make it happen.
After much hunting and collecting I found a nice looking, unpretentious community they might enjoy and sent it along – I hope it works out…