Finding Faith: Church is a perfection-free zone
"You don’t have to put on airs to come worship with us! We want you to come to the table just as you are."
One of the things I dearly love about our church is that we’re unabashedly a collection of imperfect people coming together weekly to worship and for fellowship.
Most of the folks who serve are volunteers, and given that I serve in a halftime call, sometimes our worship services are filled with the small slip ups that come with unpracticed events.
Regardless, our foibles are proudly on display for all who attend, and no one gets too worked up about it.
Sometimes we miss cues. Sometimes I read the order of service incorrectly and forget to ask the congregation to celebrate the peace with each other. I may stumble through the words of the institution, or our pianist may just decide to start a hymn over because we got lost along the way.
We insert things into services on the fly, and we make adjustments depending upon how the service is flowing. If it’s running too long, I’ll cut items from the service. And, well, if the long-winded pastor (me!) takes us 11 minutes past the hour, the parishioners take it in stride.
All in all, our time together each week is a small slice of real life, warts and all. … And if you like your worship services a little more polished, with a high degree of reverence, you’re welcome to come worship with us too! … Just consider yourself warned that we are a perfection-free zone!
So why do I love this? Because I feel our parishioners are given the freedom to be their beautifully created selves! You don’t have to put on airs to come worship with us! We want you to come to the table just as you are. … And we really do mean it.
There’s a line in a current Christian pop song called “Truth Be Told” by Matthew West that goes in part: “There's a sign on the door, says 'Come as you are' but I doubt it. 'Cause if we lived like it was true, every Sunday morning pew would be crowded. But didn't you say the church should look more like a hospital? A safe place for the sick, the sinner and the scarred and the prodigals. Like me.”
I hope that’s what our church feels like to our parishioners because it does to me. I see us as a collection of imperfect sinners willing to accept the imperfections of others.
Granted, it’s easy for me to say that having been with our church now going on six years. I’m an insider after all. I know it’s more difficult for the folks who see themselves as outsiders because of too many painful experiences with worship communities who don’t feel any more loving than the outside world.
So this week I ponder: If we were a little more open about the warts we all have in our congregations, how much more loving would we seem to all of those still seeking a faith home?