Free To Come & Free To Go
This painting depicts how I feel about now. Sometimes I feel like alone I stand. I just got another call today from a couple informing me that they are leaving our church. It just isn't for them. It is so sad for me to see them go because I love them. But there's nothing I can do to keep them. And that makes me sad too. I decided years ago that the best thing I can offer you is a place to be authentic and free. I promise to love you. I promise to respect you. I promise to allow you to be you. I promise to challenge you. I promise all this in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad. I cannot promise you programs. I don't do that any more. I can't promise you this kind of music or that kind of preaching. I can't promise all the stuff that is normally offered. I offer love. I try to offer a community where we can experience mutual respect and love. Is it possible just to love people, to love the community, without desiring, expecting or demanding more than that? Is it possible to feel committed to a people, to a community, just because you love the people and not the programs or style of worship or preaching or whatever that it offers? This is why I don't give a flip about worship style or contemporaneousness or new styles of preaching or emergent issues or anything like that. Even theology, as important as it is, is not the glue that holds us together. They are all just props on a stage. All of them! The play is the interaction of relationships. That's the only thing that matters. This is the only thing is love that concerns me. All the rest serve this. I can't give some people what they want. I promise to love them. But the problem is I also promise to love those they don't. I promise to allow them to be authentic. The problem is I also encourage the offensive authenticity in others. I promise to teach them in ways that will encourage independence, freedom and maturity. The problem is independence, freedom and maturity is not what many people want. I think my community is like me: we stand naked and unadorned. We will love you. Will you let us? Will you love us? That is up to you. Totally.