I’ve realised that I pretty much only blog when I’m criticising or complaining. It gives a pretty skewed view of my personality (although I am a self confessed cynic), as well as my experiences. Yup, I do have some critiques of the church, but actually ….I love church folk. So in honour of all the good eggs out there, here are some things about church folk that I love.
1) They will feed you.
Maybe it’s all the biblical references to Jesus being the bread of life, but even the most twisted, grumpy church person will probably be willing to give you some food. It might be 5 moldy loaves and 2 tins of tuna, but rarely will I leave the presence of my fellow Christians hungry. Although there have been times I’ve narrowly escaped food poisoning from dodgy looking potlucks, as the word says, man looks at the outward appearance, but to God, it’s the thought that counts.
Oh, who am I kidding? I find it so hard not to throw in a little bit of snark. Ok, let’s pray for the next 4 things.
2) One of them will be there for you when you need it most.
I remember a time a couple of years ago where I was going through a very dark place. I felt pretty hopeless, and pretty alone. I was lying on my bed crying, asking God to send someone to help me, and at that very moment, a older lady from church called and asked me how I was. I burst into tears on the phone, she instantly came and picked me up and took me out for the whole day. Oh, and by the way, she was white. I say that, because despite my rantings about race, I sincerely believe the gospel has the power to transcend racial boundaries and create authentic, caring communities IF we let it.
3) They remind me of my imperfections.
Sometimes, we can spend a of time focusing on the imperfections of people around us. The community of the church offers so many opportunities for people to literally irritate the hell out of me. Did you get that? When people irritate you, when you get into conflict, the way you respond is often God’s way of showing you the parts of you that are still hellish. When you see those parts, it’s the perfect chance to work on getting rid of them. It’s good thing.
4) Random sing-a-long sessions.
Black church folk in particular, just love to break out in song at any given point. Train stations, the middle of Topshop, in parks, in airports, on planes- in places where it’s distinctly inappropriate to be anything but silent. I love it. sometimes your heart is so heavy that other people’s songs are your prayers. Sometimes, you might sit in church and not engage with the sermon or even believe, but an old hymn will be the one thing you can give your assent to. Long live random (and planned) sing-a-longs!
5) The cringeworthy inside jokes.
I don’t appreciate when we do this in front of other people and alienate them. But amongst ourselves, I can dig a good Christian joke. Good Christian jokes are often made in ‘relationship seminars’ and involve very benign references to Songs of Solomon. I can dig a good Adventist joke even better. Then it gets extra exclusive, extra cringe worthy, and extra weird and crazy sounding. Even better are the inside jokes about things that happened at church like, 6 years ago when you were a teenager and they still remain AS funny as they were when you were 14. That’s a sign of true maturity – that you can be as juvenile as your 14 year old self without shame.
It’s easy for us, me in particular, to separate myself from ‘the church’, without remembering that the church is very simply me, my family, the person who took my parking space before church, the guy behind me who sings in D no matter the actual key of the song, the pervy Deacon, the sullen teenager playing Temple run. We are ALL the church. The best way to change the church is to allow God to change you. That’s a lesson that I’m still struggling to learn..
Have a great weekend, and enjoy a plate of burnt potluck on my behalf.
What do you love about church folk? You can answer even if you’re not one of them 🙂