It's been so hard finding a church in Seattle. That sounds goofy because you would think Seattle of all places would have cool churches. Well, there are some good churches around but so far I haven't found one that feels completely right. What am I looking for? Good question. For right now, here are some answers. I may add to this so check back from time to time.
I am looking for a church...
- that doesn't require a genius IQ to attend. There are a lot of intellectual Christians in these parts. They tend to sit around drinking coffee and discussing theology. I don't like coffee and only enjoy a light round of theology every once in a while. Whatever happened to the fine art of shooting the breeze? You know, just sitting around talking about nothing and laughing a whole lot. I miss that.
- that doesn't require you to be (or become) a real estate mogul to attend. These "prosperity" churches scare me to death. Seems to me they've missed some of the key teachings of Jesus and misinterpreted the definition of "blessings." I'm an artist. It stands to reason that I'm gonna be fairly destitute. Then after I die, someone will make a fortune with my art.
- that has good music. I know, this is purely based on the opinion of the listener, but this listener is pretty picky. And it's not just the quality of music that I'm looking for but also are they actually leading worship? Are the worship leaders actually worshipping themselves or just performing? Are they teaching the congregation about worship? These are important things.
- that is casual. And I mean in attitude as well as dress. But, to be specific, if I walk in wearing my cut-offs and sandals and someone has a problem with it...then that ain't the one. As far as attitude goes, I just want to hang with some real folks not a bunch of uptight, conservative Republicans that think Jesus spoke the King's english and had a copy of the KJV with his name etched on the front in gold leaf. He didn't. It was NIV with silver leaf.
- that values people over programs. I would love to visit a church where someone asked me what I was looking for as a prospective member. One of the things I would tell them is that I would love for them to get to know me just a little before they start hammering me about going to the membership class and trying to plug me into this group and that group. The things I'm interested in are not the things other folks are interested in. A 12-week study of the book of Ruth? Probably good but not my thing. A small group comprised of people with small children? Sorry. Try again. Granted, I know it's going to be difficult to find a church with a rockin' band, a ministry to artists, a drum circle and all those other weird things that I like but the least they could do is find out a little about me before inundating me with letters and such begging me to "be a part of this" and "join that."
- that is Christ-centered, not personality-of-the-pastor-centered. This is a bigger problem that it may seem. I hate it when the pastor becomes this entity that becomes bigger than John Lennon. (ha!) People climb all over each other just to be near him (or her). This even becomes a problem in smaller churches. I've been in one church where the entire male culture started dressing just like the pastor. Everywhere you looked on Sunday morning it was these pastor clones...the Stepford Pastors as it were. And all the women were little clones of the pastor's wife. The Merry Kay agent in that church was thriving. A good pastor will step aside and point to Christ. 'Nuff said.
- where the preacher is brief, bold and brilliant. I was so disappointed when we attended a church out here that has a rep for being a great church. The music was great (not much worship leading though) but the preacher spoke for 1.5 hours. And he was extremely repetitious. He could have boiled what he had to say down to about 30 - 40 minutes and it would have been awesome.
- where the preacher "rightly divides the Word of God." There's a lot of shaky theology being preached out there these days. A lot of it is coming out of the "shiny, happy Jesus" churches where it's more a lesson in improving your life than serving Jesus. I don't want to go to a Dr. Phil church. Being a Christian is tough and people should know that. And besides, what do you think those churches look like under all the sheen and glitz of happiness?
- where creativity is truly practiced. Lots of churches claim they are creative but they're not. They don't know what creativity is. They know what they've been told it is at the latest conference but they have a hard time going back and duplicating it with any success. Why? Because they are being taught creative methods and not how to be creative. Methods can be taught and duplicated (most of the time badly) but teaching someone to be creative, to have original thoughts and develope unique worship experiences, that takes time. Churches today don't have that kind of time. They want an instant fix of creativity so that they can get those numbers up above 200. Let's just slap a few praise songs, some powerpoint and a really hokey drama together and...wow...that's creative. Give me a break.
- that promotes relationships and community. I've harped against "social club" churches before but let's face it, many significant relationships revolve around church. I know many churches have small groups and this is a good thing but instead of just putting people in groups, let's try to put people in the "right" group for them. Sarah and I are really having a hard time with the issue of making and having friends. So far, it's been hard to find folks we "click" with that are willing to make a commitment to friendship. Thank God for our friends from back home. Without them, we wouldn't have any social interaction at all.
- that accepts me for who I am. This one is tough. I'm an opinionated, introverted, aging rock and roller with a poor wardrobe and an artistic side that constantly battles with my anal retentive self. Yep, I'm a keeper. So, if anyone knows of a church in the Seattle area that caters to this type of person, give me a hollar. Otherwise, I'll have to start one myself. Let's see there's me and Sarah...but then we'd disagree on something and it would split. A church of one? Maybe I can live with that.