My wife and believe we have found a place which can tolerate us.
Every church is first and foremost a human political organization. Okay, that’s redundant, since all human organization is inherently political. Shorn of emotional imbuing, “politics” is the broader term for how humans come together and use each other, the numerical mass, as a means to some end. Even a marriage has politics. Thus, every church has politics because it involves fallen humans.
It has become popular to make the joke when someone complains a church is filled with hypocrites, they should go ahead and join because there’s room for one more hypocrite. Humans are inherently hypocritical. It’s part of the fall, so there won’t be any other type of humans available for any organization, including churches.
Being involved in a church requires the same basic cynicism which comes from fully realizing this plane of existence is broken, and won’t be fixed. Churches are going to have problems, so the question is simply a matter of selecting one with problems you know how to handle. Because it’s a voluntary thing, it’s not like some things where you hold your nose and choose the one least offensive. For example, for good or ill, some sort of computer with some sort of Net access is becoming virtually essential for interacting with almost any agency, government or otherwise. Without one, you officially don’t exist for most bureaucrats. Everything about computer use sucks, but if you don’t have one, you are out in the cold on too many things, these days. That’s the nature of human existence.
So all churches have leaders, and those truly democratic don’t last long enough to get much done. From one generation of leadership to the next, fundamental changes are actually rather rare. So examining the track record, the history of controversies, is part of the process. No church of any worth is without controversies, because if you do anything at all, someone will get terribly upset and cause a scene. On top of that, the Savior we claim to emulate in our churches was condemned to the Cross by His own religious leaders.
After several years of working alone in house church, my wife and I found ourselves tired of isolation. You can have splendid spiritual purity in isolation, but little place for using that purity. So we began investigating via the websites. Granted, really savvy Net marketing is deception in itself, but a complete lack of Net savvy was unacceptable. We made several false starts, but stayed with it. Finally, we found something where we believe we won’t be much of a problem if we follow our convictions.
It’s actually a sort of franchise type church, with “campuses” all over the US. They even have a Web Church of sorts, where you can be a member without ever showing up in person at any of the campuses (or so it seems). It’s called Life Church. They are a branch of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). I did the research, reading their statement of faith, some of the criticisms leveled at them, and felt pretty much at home with it. That is, complaints and accusations leveled at them would probably be aimed at me, should I gain enough attention from the same accusers, though for different reasons. You learn a lot about an accuser from their selection of targets, just as you learn much about a church from the accusations made against them.
I suppose I’ll have to dodge a bunch of Purchase Purpose Driven stuff, and similar garbage, but I’m guessing such is not a test of faith, as it were. They permit female pastors, but not many churches have one. However, the two items I find most intolerable are absent: (1) wrapping faith in the US flag and (2) slavishly supporting modern Israel. I didn’t catch so much as a whiff of Dispensationalism in any of the reading material, and there wasn’t any hint of celebrating Veterans Day Sunday yesterday. It’s fine if restaurants and other businesses want to give us freebies, but I’m a veteran who doesn’t want battle flags polluting my worship.
We’ll give them a try, and see how it works out.