A Chris Pratt Kind of Christianity
Chris Pratt (of Parks and Rec, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic Word, etc) has become known for being vocal about his Christian faith. Most recently he talked about his faith practices on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Subsequently, actress Ellen Page pointed out on Twitter that Pratt failed to mention that his church is “infamously anti-LGBTQ.”
Pratt has denied this and says that his church (Zoe Church) welcomes everyone with open arms. That is most likely true. But while Zoe Church and it’s founding megachurch Hillsong do welcome all, they do not approve of or support gay marriage. There’s a difference between welcoming and embracing. It’s kinda hard to build community with people who don’t support your relationship and who you are…or who tell your kids what your family isn’t quite right.
Zoe Church has obviously had a significant and positive affect on Chris Pratt’s life. But Pratt also said in his response to Page’s Tweet, “My church is important to me but no church defines me or my life…my vaules define who I am.”
Ahhh, there’s the thing isn’t it? What happens when our church’s values and our values aren’t the same? I think Pratt is like a lot of Christians in this regard. They find a church whose style appeals to them, where the preaching engages them and the people embrace them, and then shrug off those times when their own values and the church’s theology conflict.
People do it all the time.
I know LGBTQ Catholics who still attend mass every week.
I know feminists who raise their daughters in churches that tell them they have no place in the pulpit.
I know parents who love and support their adult gay children, but who still attend a church where their kids aren’t welcome.
I even know people who go to a different county to buy alcohol so no one from their teetotaling church will see them.
There are times when people stay with a church to try to change it from the inside. At the time I was in seminary, my denomination did not ordain LGBTQ elders or pastors as we do today. I strongly considered leaving the church I had grown up in for a denomination that was already fully inclusive. I know some seriously badass women who shook up the Southern Baptist Convention in answering their call to preach and ended up being instrumental in the founding of new denominations like the Alliance of Baptist and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
There is no glass slipper, perfect fit church
Of course, no church is going to line up with what you believe about everything all the time. That’s where unity comes in. We’re all united in our faith in Jesus Christ, so everything else will work itself out, right? Not always. Not really.
I’m not talking about disliking the way your church does communion or wishing your pastor would quit walking around and go stand behind the pulpit or wanting to build a gym on the lot next door. Those are personal preferences, not deeply held values. Values are the kinds of things laid out in Micah 6:8–to seek justice, and love kindness and walk humbly with your God. Things like loving your neighbor and serving the least of these. Those are values.
If your values (not your church) define your life, why would you stay at a church that doesn’t share your values? And if your church does define your life, are you sure you’re all in with the definition?
What caused you to stay at church that you didn’t fully agree with or what ultimately caused you to leave? I’d love to hear your stories.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the PCUSA. Doubting Believer is a progressive and inclusive online Christian community.