Meet Tyler. Our friendship began in line at a Starbucks. He introduced himself as "Sweet Lou" and I thought he was lying about his name, the rest, as they say, is history. Now he gets mad at me for thinking too much and I get mad at him for liking Justin Bieber....it's a beautiful friendship. Tyler was gracious enough to go first, by virtue of being the first to return their answers. Really though, he's the best and below are the 7 questions I asked him about church and his straight answers
// What do you see as being God's purpose/reason behind the creation of church? //
Loaded question eh? If I had to guess, because as a man trying to figure out why an infinite God would do anything is almost laughable, I would guess that God created the church to draw people closer to Himself through community. I believe in a triune God, and by this community is in and of itself part of who God is. A perfectly eternal being in three parts constantly acting as one. So as I said, my guess would be that the church was created to be a place where people live in a community that tries to exemplify the same community that is God and in doing so draws closer to God. As this community grows closer to God it would display the character of who God is to the world. With this God could reveal himself through the community, allowing someone who believes in God or even someone that may not to feel welcomed, encouraged, and loved in a broken world.
// Do you feel as if you are a part of something that falls within the purpose you described above? //
// Are you involved with an organized church body? //
// Where/how do you find community in your life? //
I find community in my life among my friends and family. I find that the community that I enjoy the most though is the community of friends and family that are apart of the church. I think this is because generally they all want more for another than themselves. This is encouraging.
// What problems/hardships have you felt in your church experiences? //
The problems or hardships I have with the church? I guess I first have to examine myself. As a member of the church I would be a part of any problem or hardship I had with it. I guess a current hardship I have is when church bodies try to set standards or rules that people of the church must live up to or follow. I believe this can be helpful for some but may not be helpful for everyone. There are certain things a church should exemplify and try and uphold but when rules or standards start to be put in place their is generally a consequence for no upholding a rule or standard. This consequence can then cause people to live out those rules or standards but more so out of fear and fear is something that the people of God shouldn't be tied to. We are to be free from fear. This fear can also keep people from confessing or being honest about the sin they may have in their life. As the church we should exemplify love, grace, and peace not fear.
// What do you think could be improved about the American church? //
Whew. I don't have a clue. Perhaps at the core of any issue I might have with the american church would be a lack of faith in God. If God is as big as we believe Him to be, what if we truly trusted Him to do the things He promised and we did less. Sometimes I feel like we as Americans have the ability to do so much we lose the need for faith. This is both a blessing and a curse.
// What is the one thing you would tell someone who isn't a Christian about church? //
I would tell them to try and find the church outside of a building. To connect with the people of the church outside of a place that may hold the name "church." To get to know those people, because those people are the church, not some building. I would encourage them to ask those people hard questions about their faith and have difficult conversations consistently even if they don't seem to agree. I would also tell them to love that person among those difficult conversations.
So that's Tyler. More to come!