I’ve processed a lot of stuff here in the past couple of years, as I’ve transitioned out of institutional church into “something else” that I don’t know what to call it yet. This transition has been full of surprises; if someone had made me bet my life on predicting the stuff that has happened, I’d be dead now.
Instead, I am alive. Very much so. Much more so than before. But looking at it another way, I had to die before I could live. Lots of stuff had to pass away to make room for the new. That was basically the deconstruction process I kept talking about. But in my heart I see that process ebbing away, at least for now. I find that I have less and less to talk about personally as far as deconstruction is concerned, and the issues and problems I see with the institutional church as a system are well documented in the back pages of this blog. And yet for the past few months there has been this in-between time where I’ve been finding my feet in a new place, and watching the incubation of something new–something that has up to now been just a sort of indescribable glob of something-or-other that if I’d tried to blog about it, it would have gone something like this:
“Well, something’s happening. There’s this sort of thing I see happening with creativity and music and photography and people and ministry and it’s kinda cool but I don’t know what it is yet but it’s sort of exciting and scary and it’s moving around and we’re doing stuff here and there and figuring out what’s going on and how are we going to live?”
Maybe you can see why I waited awhile. 🙂
And so I’ve been in this transition-within-a-transition where I’ve had less inspiration to write about what used to be, but not enough information to verbalize what is yet to be. Thankfully, I think it’s time to turn a corner on that. As I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to process what I’d been through, what I was going through, and what I thought about it…now I think it’s time to start at least trying to put into words what I see in front of me as it comes forth. Even if it sometimes sounds a bit like the paragraph in italics above. 🙂
That doesn’t mean there won’t still be a rant here and there. I’ve been engaged in conversation with some blogger friends over at Communitas Collective about this very thing, and there is a consensus about our need to stop looking backward and start looking forward–to not just focus on what is wrong with the church, but on how we can be part of the reshaping. That, I think, is vital to continuing to write in this sphere; once a blog like this finishes processing the past, it has to turn a corner or shut down. At the same time…I think it is still right to highlight what is wrong on occasion, for two very important reasons:
- Things have not yet changed with the church. Just because I have completed a personal process and come to grips, that doesn’t mean the church herself is okay. Most of the Body of Christ is still locked into a system that doesn’t work and causes pain and still needs a huge overhaul. Until that changes, people who see it for what it is need to keep speaking up.
- While some of us are ending this process of deconstruction, others are just beginning it. There still needs to be a voice here and there to tell these folks they aren’t crazy, that someone else out there “gets it.” I think about how lonely a journey this has been for my family, how lonely it still is, and how it has helped to have a few voices in the blogosphere that related. That choir of voices needs to increase, not decrease, as more and more believers find themselves deconstructing.
That being said…I definitely find that when I have something negative to say, there’s a different motivation behind it. My own grieving process is ended, and I’ve come to grips with where I am. In fact, the only thing that still pisses me off personally about the institutional church is when folks start trying in their own understanding to draw me back “into the fold”, and that’s a rant for another post. 🙂 Beyond that, though, there is now this huge sense of growing hope and purpose that is healing the jadedness I once felt–because I now see a lot more of what Christ-following and church and ministry can really look like when it’s unencumbered by the extra weights. In fact, I’m starting to see it happen right before my eyes, in ways that have never been modeled for me–not by the house church movement, or even by the emerging church movement, or anything else I’ve seen yet. And that’s the stuff I’m now feeling inspired to write about.
So all that rambling to say, if I rant from time to time about the ills of the institutional church, it’s for the purposes I mentioned above; but hopefully this post marks a change in the personal focus of this blog, away from what used to be into what can be and what will be, and what it’s looking like as it takes shape.
Keep tracking with me. I’ll do my best to tell you what I see.