(click to see the full-size illustration)

I have been trying to find a church, which is not a little difficult. Today, I almost went to this church that sounded different–engaged in their faith and their community and not tied down to forms birthed out of tradition. But as I read through their website I found a link to a friend site, The Center for Progressive Christianity. In short, I discovered that they consider Jesus
one of many ways to God, going so far as to say,

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean we are Christians who…recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God’s realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.

Now, I am all down for considering what is true for me and true for you and true for us and true for them; but just a little more important to me is the question: what is true for God?
I don’t feel any need to question their faith or their doctrine in terms of their standing with Jesus; however, that’s just not my cup of tea.

The other churches I have been to in Louisville who seem to be more engaged in their faith and community tend to be a little more on the other end of the spectrum. Just by listening to the way they talk, mental images are conjured of sharp angles, clear lines, and high, impenetrable stone walls. They like to talk about hell, sin, and Jesus. Those are all great things to talk about, it’s just how they do it…it’s very rigid from a standpoint of exegetical superiority due to a false assumption of the correct approach to the Scriptures. I had a conversation with one of these guys once about politics, something I know very little about so I am often willing to hear the thoughts of others. I asked him how he votes; he said, “Biblical.” Biblical to him didn’t mean a process of discernment and prayer and waiting for God’s lead; it didn’t even mean casting lots or laying out a sheepskin or some other mystical thing that they actually did in the stories of the Bible; no, Biblical meant John McCain.

I feel stuck between two ill-fitting options. One says, I just don’t feel like this can be true, so it must not be true. The other, Who cares how you feel? This is the truth. Both seem to be engaging this culture and my generation in particular. Both have forms of worship and faith expression that are unique and effective. Both seem to mobilize their people in their faith. But their theological approach and content are at the polar ends. I’m looking for more of a mix, something in between. To complicate matters, I also think I’m searching for something that has shared life at its center instead of a worship experience. Shared life in intentional community includes worship experiences whereas worship experiences do not always include shared life or intentionality.

I made the illustration at the top of this post almost exactly two years ago to express my feelings at the time. I dusted it off today only to realize I am still searching for the same thing. I hope to go into detail about it in three or four parts (Technical Problems & Professionalism; A New Law; A New Gospel; and Adaptive Community) over the next few posts as it encompasses several ideas that are precious to me and help toward constructing an idea of how I would like church to look.