For the past several months I’ve been intentionally asking intimate questions of friends, acquaintances, and cooperative strangers. The questions are simple but they have led down some deep paths. They are:
- What do you think about church?
- What do you think about God?
- What do you think about Jesus?
- What is community and where do you find it?
When I invite people to talk with me about these topics I make it clear that I am not trying to recruit or proselytize, but that I genuinely want to understand what they think and feel about these subjects.
What I’ve learned has been fascinating and, at times, inspired. People express their misgivings about church. The share their difficulties and wounds. They share doubts about being part of something that seems quick to judge and slow to help. Some with church backgrounds see the church as boring or confusing. Some without church backgrounds aren’t sure what it means to be part of a church. Many speak wistfully about having a spiritual community for themselves and their families.
When we turn to talk of God and Jesus the mood lifts and most people who have had negative experiences with church feel differently about God. Though I intentionally do not ask what people “believe,” many confess a belief in a higher power. Many describe God as all-loving, ever-present, and all-powerful. And many say they can’t help but believe in God when they see the beauty of creation or look into the faces of their children or loved ones. People often see God at work in the quirks and coincidences of life.
Most believe Jesus existed, that he was a loving teacher and maybe a prophet. But there are a lot of questions. Was he really God? Did he die and rise again? If so, what happened to him after that? I share that people in the church have been struggling with these questions for ages, and even though we believe we have some answers, there are always great clouds of mystery surrounding Jesus’ divinity.
People unequivocally shared their desire for connection and belonging. Lots of people get this kind of connection through affinity groups. (Many of the people I talked with are part of my wonderful running group, Trail Roots.) One common desire is for community that doesn’t depend on interest or ability or demographics, and many lamented not having a community where they can “go deeper” or explore their spirituality.
Particularly as I work to start this church, I am aware of what I hear people telling me they need:
- Friendships that go beyond “being polite”
- Spaces where they can feel safe and “go deeper”
- A place to explore their spiritual side
- A community that includes all and doesn’t feel judgy or require you to call yourself a Christian in order to be a part of it
What do you think about church, God, Jesus, and community? Please share in the comment section below. Better yet, find a spiritual friend and talk with them. Need a spiritual friend? That’s what we’re here for. Incarnation is committed to creating deep spiritual community for people who want connection, purpose, and belonging. We’d love to have you join us.