Animate: Week 7

Church| An Imperfect Family • Bruce Reyes-Chow
Bruce Reyes-Chow knows he’s not inventing the metaphor of the church as family. So he suggests we take our changing notions about what it means to be a family and let them seep into our understanding of the church. For Bruce, it’s the messiness, the dysfunction, and the joy that comes from complex relationships that make church worth hanging on to. So how do we stay connected to this sometimes-broken family system? What does it mean to commit ourselves to the church family, for better or for worse?

We began our last class together (for this round of Animate) talking about reasons for going to church and reasons for not going to church. These are the lists that you all came up with:

Reasons to Go to Church: 

  1. To be with people who also are celebrating Christ
  2. Face-to-face interaction / community.
  3. We are supposed to go.
  4. To have a dedicated period of time to center in on my relationship with God. Helpful to be around others who are hopefully seeking the same.
  5. To keep the sabbath day.
  6. Come to expose children to Christianity, other generations of people.
  7. Getting in hopes of getting a message, a spirit of renewal. Reminder that we are Christian.
  8. Find family there.
  9. To be around others who do believe in a very spiritual but not religious area.
  10. Engage with scripture.

Reasons to NOT Go to Church:

  1. To sleep in.
  2. To enjoy a day off with family.
  3. To read the paper / cup of coffee.
  4. We have other small group opportunities, that might be better.
  5. The services have gotten too routine/predictable.
  6. Hard to be somewhere if issues being spoken about are not where you are at on those issues.

When we were having our conversation yesterday, I was reminded of this video here, which I think is pretty well done:

In Bruce’s video, he talked about a variety of metaphors for the church, and for him, he landed on the Church as Family being a very helpful metaphor for him. Probably one of the reasons is that we all know how messed up our own families are. Though, perhaps because of that, that makes us have unrealistic expectations that our “church” families would be perfect, or at least better than our own families. But if we stop and think about it honestly, we’d realize that our churches are just as messed up as any family. Bruce asks the question, “When we call the church a family, do we really mean it?”

So…do we? We’ve been talking about that a lot here at First Presbyterian Church, and have used the language of wanting to be a unified church family. So, we could ask ourselves that same question that Bruce asked: “When we call the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland a family, do we really mean it?” What do you think?

I really appreciated people’s honesty and vulnerability in sharing about their experiences with church, specifically their experiences here at First Pres. Some shared that they haven’t found our faith community to be as welcoming and friendly and inviting as perhaps we’d like our community to be, and those are always good reminders of things that we can work on.

Any lingering thoughts or questions that came to mind about the topic of the Church?

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