Sunday, February 03, 2008

Saying goodbye to a church

Today was my last day at the Church on the Pike. Ash Wednesday will find me at the Church on the Hill, hopefully with my transfer of membership already in process. I decided it would be good for me to start Lent in a new place. It was hard singing with the choir for the last time, going to coffee hour for the last time, leaving the parking lot for the last time. I'm pretty sure I made the right decision, but it hurts nonetheless. I turned in my church key, said goodbye to a few people I'll keep in touch with, and left quietly. Then I went (I blush to admit it) for a little retail therapy. It takes so little to cheer me up -- a handbag at 75% off will often do the trick.

This morning was the Church on the Pike's annual meeting, however, so I did stay long enough to see what the official spin would be on the many departures this past fall and winter. I was not disappointed. Those who have left were justly characterized as those who could not "buy into" the church's vision. This means, of course, all those who were unwilling to do the fundamentalist goose-step along with Uncle Rick Warren and his "purpose-driven" schemes for growth and glory. Yeah, I guess I have no buy-in. Guilty as charged! Micah 6:8 has always seemed sufficient to me:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

I don't know, is this too reductive? Do I have to take classes, sign pledges, and join a "life group" (whatever that is; it sounds like a life sentence) to be a member of the Christian family? Do I have to accept the Bible as literal truth, and believe that God planned out every aspect of my "purpose" before I was born? Isn't it enough to be baptized and try to live like a Christian?

If I have to follow the Saddleback and Willow Creek boys, I am in big trouble!

My new church, the Church on the Hill, is not into the "purpose-driven" stuff at all, thanks be to God. And the Lenten program there, which I've already signed on for, features the history of Anglicanism. It will probably have lots of intellectual content! So take that, Rick Warren! Take yourself off in your Hawaiian shirts and leave me alone!


Jan said...

I so agree with you about that Purpose Driven stuff! I hope the change is more than you anticipate and grows you spiritually.

susan s. said...