An Open Letter to the Local Church

Let me take a moment to thank you. You have such a hard job. No matter how hard you try, someone will disapprove. Unfortunately, it is also likely that at some point in time, someone will get hurt. You will often be made out to be the bad guy- whether deserved or not. I can only imagine the stress of wanting to be ‘relevant’- and accused of being disrespectful. Of being ‘traditional’- and accused of being out of touch. Whether or not to play hymns or modern worship songs- and having someone saying you are doing worship wrong whichever you decide on. And tithing, my metaphorical hat goes off to you on this one. Knowing that whether or not you pay the rent/mortgage on the church building, or whether you can pay for your kids health insurance, is dependent on if your congregation gives enough. The faith that requires, I will fully admit, that would be an astronomical challenge for me. And then deciding whether you pass the plate or have a discreet box in the back? Having to make those kind of decisions stresses me out just thinking of it.

So thank you. Thank you for your hard work and the place you fulfill in our lives and communities.

If I may be so bold, the point of this letter is to express some observations and concerns that have been building in my heart these last few years. I know that there many voices on the internet expressing their thoughts on how the church should change and become ‘relevant’….or return to their ‘roots’, but I hope to offer something to the conversation and therefore ask for a few more minutes of your time.

First, dear church, for those of us who grew up in you, you were the backbone of our lives. Please let us grow up. See us as adults. I can imagine how hard that would be when you watched us in nursery,but please step back and see us as the adults we are today- not the child of what felt like yesterday. Many of us don’t want to leave, this is our home, but if we’re only seen as extensions of our parents, how can we grow? And adulthood is not defined by marriage, please see us singles as adults as well. We are not less adults then our married peers, just God has our lives on a different timeline.

Next, train us, teach us, and if the time comes, let us leave. The church is there to train up believers, and provide a haven. Train us up to be equipped to know truth from false teaching, in order that if the day comes that we feel led to go to a different church (or move away and need to), you have done all you can to help us be discerning believers. Don’t automatically assume that if we aren’t behind your doors that we’ve fallen away from the truth. Lives change, people move, please don’t foster a fear that ‘you’ are the only ‘right’ church. Train us to rest and rely on Christ alone, not you.

On the other hand of the above comment, if you are a church who has built themselves up on ‘being open to everyone! bring your friends who wouldn’t step foot in a church!’, please don’t shluff to the side those of who us who don’t have ‘a history’. There are those of us who have not gone through ‘wild child’ phases, and we want to belong too. When you are ‘having a seat at the table for everyone’- remember us. Everyone who has a pulse has had trials and struggles, some just aren’t as obvious.

I won’t dwell long on this point, because I believe it’s been covered enough, but let us be unique. Odd. Casual. Conservative. Bright and colorful. Let us be us. We’re all shapes and sizes and colors and with tattoos or piercings, or long floral skirts and long hair, we’re all different, and we want to learn more about the God who loves us. Please show His love when we enter into your sanctuary, regardless of whether or not we ‘match’ those around us.

Thank you

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6 comments

  1. I hope allot of churches read this and take it to heart. Once I left my childhood church I’ve had a hard time finding another that I felt was accepting of me. I’m fairly conservative in most things and the conservative churches I’ve visited didn’t seem to care for my multiple piercings. The liberal churches I’ve gone to didn’t seem to care, but their worship style seemed to be more about being a spectacle than anything else.

  2. I don’t think you could have said it any better! YES! To all of the above! I wonder and worry about the next generation. I have no concrete source for this so take it with salt, but I was told from the Builder generation (30’s-40’s) to Millenials (1980+), church attendance is down 60%. I realize that part of it has to do with the times of church being seen as a mandatory option for “good people.” The fact that it’s not a social obligation today is nice, but the pews are more empty. I feel it’s time for churches to address what you have mentioned more seriously. Not to be seeker friendly, but to be more equipped and better lights in our community.

    1. Thank you!
      It will be interesting to see how church changes, and what it’ll be like for our future children. I have hope that there still will be good churches out there, not perfect because churches are made up of imperfect people, but still churches we could be proud to call our own.

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