So… if we care, what do we say?

Column by Brian McLaren on 3 September 2020 0 Comments

Recently, I received an email from a reader who asked, “Hi Brian. I would love to know your thoughts on speaking with close family members who are active or retired police officers during this time. I’m seeing so many black activists and white allies calling for the police force to be defunded and dismantled.

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I have been an on and off member of a church for 15 years. The church is Assemblies of God, but the pastor is more liberal in his style of message giving. They can’t and don’t speak to the issues of gayness and they would say that Jesus is the only way to God. This pastor has meant so much to me. He introduced me to the person of Jesus, which has led to my graduate studies in theology. Problem is, I am much more progressive than they are. I’ve had a troubled childhood, so my journey to God has been fraught with questions, which theology school is helping me to investigate.

I also have a child who dislikes Sunday school at this church, which makes me sad. I want her to feel excited about knowing God, but the language they use sometimes is a bit unapproachable – even reading the Bible to a kid with words like “righteous” means nothing – even to me.

I was going to try the Universalist Unitarian church, but it seems to denounce God and lessen Jesus. I want to be a Christian and I want to show my daughter who God is and can be, but I’m at a loss. Do I stay where I am or do I join a less Christian church? Either way I will feel like an outsider.


Dear Reader,

Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey.  Your questions and processing are all part of what it means to be a person of Faith.  One thing I always remind myself is that there is no perfect church.  In the same way, there is no perfect denomination.

That being said, it may help you to spend some time thinking about what some non-negotiables are for you. Is preaching that Jesus is the only way to God a deal-breaker?  Or is that okay as long as you can create opportunities and space for your thoughts around that in other areas?  Is Sunday School for your child a deal-breaker?  Is lessening Jesus a deal breaker?

Another helpful reminder is that the dogma, doctrine, Sunday School, or even one leader at a church doesn't make up the entirety of the place.  The church is the people!  By virtue of you bringing yourself and YOUR beliefs and questions to the space, the Church is - or at least should be - fluid.  If you're happy with many aspects of a Church but want to push for change or question some aspects, it's your place to do just that.  If your pushing leads to a rub with one of your non-negotiables, then maybe it's time to look around.  My prayer for you is that you don't feel like an outsider wherever you land, but rather that the person of Jesus and the promises of God allow for you to feel right inside God's dreams.

~ Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft




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