The Reluctant Christian

I live in Baltimore City. One of the most dangerous cities in North America. My wife joined me here as well as our four children. We don’t live in a bad part of the city, in fact, not far from the county line, sometimes I wish we had moved to a worse neighborhood.

My Christian journey started at 18. Like all good stories this one had a boy and a girl. Like all bad stories about boys and girls nothing ever developed. But I did find Christ at 19 in a non-denominational church in suburban Maryland. Then again, maybe he found me.

After being “saved” (or whatever………I profess no knowledge of my salvation. I just trust it) the folks who “saved” me pretty abandoned me in favor of finding new souls. So I jumped ship and after some hopping wound up involved in an emergent church (though “how” emergent has been debated). But I saw a lot of the same things there that turned me off from previous churches. Cliques. Looks. One Christian-ese had been replaced for another. After five years I’d seen enough.

We church hopped for a while. Got kicked out of one church. Saw internal politics dominate another. Saw lots of American flags behind lots of pulpits.

I wound up attending a mennonite church about 8 months ago. And like all good stories it started with a girl, my wife. Like all bad stories she nagged me. She liked the Amish and thought they were cute or something. I tagged along. The sermon was very good so we stuck. People were trying, some failing, to obey the Gospel literally. Turn the other cheek, give to the poor, etc, etc. Jesus’ teachings are not easy to obey and here was group of people trying to obey his commandments.

I want to start a church in Baltimore. But I don’t know exactly what it should look like. I’m turned off by internal church power struggles, America worship, and “compassionate conservative” movement we’ve had of late. Of course, as a conservative I think we need to begin to redefine “compassionate conservative”.

I also like ostriches.
An Ostrich

Comments (12)

  1. Rhonna

    I was also turned off for many years by the power struggles in churches. The primary problem with churches is that they are filled with human beings. We’re all flawed. I’m not sure I have an answer for you, but when we are frustrated with other Christians I think it’s healthy to wonder in what ways we, ourselves, are frustrating and grant others the grace that we would hope they would give to us. My pastor had a great sermon a few weeks ago on the subject. Click on the following link and choose Jan 13. Best wishes on your journey. http://www.manhattan.ks.us.mennonite.net/Worship

    Reply
  2. SteveK

    Wow. Scary looking ostrich.

    Welcome!

    It is always possible to begin a new congregation, but two pieces of advics:

    a. It is not enough to know what you DON’T want in a congregation, you also have to see what you do want. What would be ideal in your congregation? What do you want to see, both spiritually and culturally? And how would you acheive it?

    b. You also have to recognize that no congregation is perfect, and almost every congregation has both those who are only superficially following Jesus and those who are seriously following Jesus in their own way. Sometimes we have to look hard for those truly following Jesus, but they are there. Jesus has left a witness among them. Every congregation has cultural blindness to some cultual sins, as well. But if God has called you to a congregation, then He has called you to find a way to gently communicate the failings you see and He has called you to listen to others when they show you your failings. That’s part of what fellowship is about.

    Steve K

    Reply
  3. Daniel

    We do seem to run into each other many different places don’t we?

    Believe it or not I have talked to the Virginia Mennonites about planting a church here in Richmond for a while now. Since then we’ve connected with another already started church and are still in communication with the Mennonites about possible affiliations. Small world.

    Reply
  4. somasoul

    Dan,

    Mennonites are starting to get into some heavy church planting. They want to grow. My fear is losing the cultural and spiritual identity they’ve held for so long.

    Steve,

    Sorry if I sounded like I don’t want things more than I want things in a church. I don’t believe that to be the case. I think there are many things I want in church. And it may sound cheesy but if there was a perfect church I wouldn’t be allowed to go.

    Reply
  5. SteveK

    It’s only cheesy because it so true of all of us.

    I didn’t think you were looking for the perfect church. but sometimes we need to “love the one you’re with”.

    STeve K

    Reply
  6. somasoul

    “Love the one you’re with”

    Now that, sir, is cheesy.

    Reply
  7. simon

    Here is a very good reading I came across recently- quote ” If You don’t become a reconciler of the lost, you will become an evaluator of the saved.There is something inherent in our new nature that wants to see people get right with God, and if we don’t direct it at the lost, we will direct it at the saved.Than, instead of pusuing sinners, we will spen our time policing the saints.” unquote.I think thats why we tend to fight so much in churches, we aren’t busy enough reaching out to the lost.

    Reply
  8. jdaniel

    hey! i live in baltimore city too. you should come to a coffee house we have on saturday mornings (9-12) at A New Faith Community (unfortunately the info on the site is not all up to date, but the address is correct).

    Reply
  9. Somasoul

    .on my cell……..

    simon. i think you have a point. i dont want to be critical of the church. for too long i have been asking “what are we doing wrong?”. instead i should be asking “what are we doing right?” thats a less critical outlook. j…..ill try to make it out sometime.

    Reply
  10. Pingback: The Unexpected Pastor (To Be) » Young Anabaptist Radicals

  11. Jason J

    My wife and I moved out of Bmore 2 years ago to help take care of her mother and we have missed it ever since. We are feeling called to move back there (or possibly to Philly since she’s a native there)

    We are looking into moving into Christian community somewhere in West Baltimore, but I don’t really even know where to start. Hopefully our paths can cross sometime in the future.

    Reply
  12. Wayne Loper

    I am interested in locating the entire article quoted by Simon on Feb. 16. I have part of a handwritten copy that is faded and would much like to locate the original source.

    Reply

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