Because we all need Jesus…and each other.
For 15 years, I’ve been a small church pastor. I love knowing everyone and being invited into the most sacred moments of life—birth, baptism, confirmation, communion, marriage, illness and death. I love watching the people in the community love and serve together. It’s the best!
As our culture has shifted, church on Sunday morning has become less of a priority and more of a problem. Youth sports, work schedules and the lure of a relaxed Sunday morning interfere with worship attendance—especially if you are not part of a fear-based religion that threatens eternal damnation if you don’t show up to worship every week.
Between dealing with building problems, recruiting from a shrinking pool of volunteers, meeting denominational responsibilities, resolving conflicts, struggling with tight budgets and being discouraged by declining attendance, my ability to spread the Good News of the Gospel in ways that people can hear continued to be diminished. Meanwhile, the adherence to a warped version of the Christian faith that excludes others and spreads hate continued to grow, and my faith (not in God, but in humanity) was being severely damaged.
Community is at the heart of what it means to be Christian. The God we worship dwells in community: Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit. The first thing that Jesus did in his public ministry was to gather a community of disciples around him. We are meant to be in this thing together.
I thought more than once, what if a Christian community could connect online?
I know! There are SO many things wrong with that!
An online community can’t hug you
bring you casseroles when someone dies
do your laundry after you’ve had a baby
sit next to you when you are sick
hold your hand and pray for you when you are grieving.
An online community just couldn’t possibly be a REAL Christian community.
So, I let the idea go. Again…and again…and again.
What if it really can happen?
Then one day, I was looking at the story of Peter struggling to try to make sure non-Jews who were entering the Christian community adopted the Jewish dietary laws. Things were not going well. Then Peter had this dream where all the forbidden foods—pigs and birds and even reptiles–floated down from heaven on a big sheet. God tells Peter to kill and eat the stuff. Peter makes a gagging sound and tells God he would never eat anything UN-clean. God hits back with: don’t be telling me that something I have made pure is unclean.
Peter realized he had placed some false and faulty parameters around what it means to be part of a Christian community. And—cue the lightbulb—it occurred to me that perhaps I’d done that, too.
Perhaps it wasn’t my commitment to community that was misguided, but rather, my insistence on what that community had to look like.
We are still figuring out what this is going to look like, but because it’s not anchored to a particular time or space, Doubting Believer has the opportunity to reach more people with the Good News at a time when we could all really use some.
So join us on the journey, and we’ll figure it out together.