My friend Rachel Held Evans asked me to join several bloggers and write a letter to the North American Church. It's all a part of the Eighth Letter project. So here's my letter.
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Dear American Church,
This might be awkward, since we’ve had quite a history together. But I think it’s time you and I had a serious talk.
First of all, I just want to say off the bat that I do NOT hate you anymore. I don’t think you’re the sole cause of all the problems in the world. I don’t think you’re a corrupt institution that needs to be abandoned. I use to think all that stuff, but I've grown up since there.
Having said all that, though, you ain't exactly a saint, either.
I've experienced different sides of you throughout the years: charismatic, megachurch, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. I had some great times, and made some wonderful friends, but sometimes I just felt like you could do better. Sometimes I felt like I was witnessing a multi-media Christian extravaganza show more than entering a sacred place. Sometimes I felt like everybody just went home after church and never experienced real community. Sometimes I felt like you were so concerned with doctrine that you ignored the cries of the poor.
Then there's the charismatic church, which I'm not even going to get into!
It's much easier to give you the finger and walk away. But we're members of the same body--the Body of Christ. It would be like saying, "Okay, I'm a hand, you're a foot, therefore I don't need you." It doesn't work that way. So I want to know how I can help rebuild you. I have a few ideas: stop seeing people as "the other," find ways to serve the community, stop worrying so much about entertaining people, etc. But we should definitely grab some coffee soon and talk about these things. You might point out some things I have never thought about before.
It's not going to be easy, but I think we can make something work.