I’m a big believer in the church. I think it’s a wonderful movement of people that offers a transforming presence in the world, and that it is often a remarkable expression of God’s grace and love in the world.
I no longer find my home there.
I have tried to talk myself into it, to find my place there, but i just can’t. It’s not that i think the church is doing something wrong, it’s not that i’ve grown out of it or moved beyond it. It’s more like i’ve moved into some other parallel universe, so the church is now in another world where i don’t recognise myself or this somewhat strange faith that seems to have its hold on me.
I’m not pissed at the church. I quite love it, and am really grateful for it. I’m not angry, i haven’t been hurt, i don’t need counselling or debriefing. I just don’t find myself there. I wish i could articulate the stuff behind that better – but i hope you’ll just trust me enough to know this is not something that needs fixing.
Tonight will be the 14th time i’ve heard Pete Rollins speak over the last couple of weeks. I haven’t got bored yet, although now that the language and concepts are far more familiar i don’t have to hold onto every sentence to make sense of it. It means my mind has more freedom to wander… Last night Pete made a comment about how Ikon is both a stepping stone out of the church for some, and a stepping stone into the church for others, and i began to wonder which of those i want for the things that i do, and which of those this project might be for me.
I find it constantly bemusing (and wonderful) that the church offers me the gift of this job (David, my manager, tells me to stop being so bemused by that, to stop questioning it and just to live it. i’ve promised i’ll restrain myself from incessant second guessing this year). The intention of this project has evolved (uncertainly and falteringly at the beginning, but now with quite distinct clarity) into something that will not (deliberately) change the church, or (intentionally) bring people into it. It would be lovely if those things happen, and i will be delighted if they do, but the project’s focus is purely to curate moments where there might be space for redemption and transformation to happen.
One of the surprising things that’s come out of the last few months has been that a number of people have been asking me to help them leave the church. They want to know how to let go of it, how to move on. some want to ritualise the moment of leaving the church, especially if they were ritualised into it without their consent or real understanding of what it meant. Some want to know how to get rid of the last vestiges of their faith. These are people whose experiences of the church have been devastating and continue to be damaging. I don’t know yet how to do this well, but i think i’ll be learning.
Maybe taking this tack means that i’ll have a short life in this project, or that it will have a short life in the church. but for the moment i’ll just take David at his word and keep waiting to see what unfolds.