It’s not Monday anymore, but it’s still true confessions day at my house. My confession: I un-un-churched.
Let me explain.
A while back, I started a home/emerging church thing at my house. I called it “un-church,” even though I didn’t really like the name, because I couldn’t come up with anything better at the moment. I did not intend to sound un-ecclisiastic. Un-church was on hiatus for the summer. I planned to do un-church on September 23, but that date came and went and nothing happened. So. I un-un-churched.
Part of the reason that I started a home/emerging church thing was that one night last fall, I was so mad at God (which, yes, I realize is not the healthiest state to be in, thank you) I said some very cross words to Him. They may have been along the lines of, Listen, buddy. You called me to this stuff. I never had a life plan that involved a passion for preaching. That was your idea. And you’ve been pretty quiet about what you’d like me to do next. So, if you don’t have some kind of sign or word or something for me in the near future. . . Well. I’m going to go work somewhere rotten, some Halliburton somewhere, that will pay me lots of dinero, and feed another passion I have: SHOES. And pay off my seminary debt, thank you very much.
Later that night, after I had had words with God, I went to an art show where some friends were showing their stuff. My friend’s parents, Bruce and Mary Jane, were there, as one of them is an artist who makes incredible ceramics and the other does cool oil paintings. They were asking me how things were going post-seminary. I told them. No bueno. No job. No prospects. Cross with God.
“Well, why don’t you start a church?” says Bruce.
Mind you, I’ve had people tell me, “I don’t really like organized religion and stuff, but if you had a church I’d go,” and things along those lines for years. I always thought it was nice that they would say something like that, but that’s all I really thought. This time was different, though. I had ears to hear on that night.
Mary Jane backed Bruce up, telling a story of a window-washer friend of theirs who had started a small church. “You could do it,” she said.
I went home that night and prayed about it. And prayed about it over the next months. Finally, I decided that maybe it was a word from heaven. Maybe it wasn’t, but maybe it was. And it resonated with something I had on my wall while I was in the Peace Corps, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” OK, that isn’t Jesus. That was FDR. But still. I think in terms of real ministry, it’s a decent guideline.
Anyway, I decided I would use what God gave me – a passion for the Word, a love for preaching and for co-discipling – and start “doing” church at my house.
I held several meetings in my living room over the next months. My close friends came, and Bruce and Mary Jane, who gave me the “word” at the art show. I was kind of amazed that anyone would come. I loved getting the sermons ready and delivering them, and then talking about whatever text we had covered. But then, I had several un-church meetings where it was just me and my best friend and my husband. I found this dispiriting. Very dispiriting. Of course, my husband and best friend, being spiritually mature human beings, reminded me that the number of people was maybe not the most significant thing, but that was hard for me to hear. It felt like failure redux.
Now it is October. October 9th, to be exact. I’m not sure what to do about un-church. I don’t miss feeling forlorn that there are only three peoples in the un-church gathering sometimes. But I do miss un-church.