Thursday, January 10, 2008

Survey says

From BeliefNet:
Survey: 'Unchurched' Americans say Church is 'Full of Hypocrites'

OK, no great shocker there. Maybe a "Wait, if you're not there, how do you know?" query. Although I was "unchurched" for 15 years for that very reason. That, and a preference for sleeping in after working until 1 a.m. on Saturday nights. Yes, working, not partying.

But then we hit this graf:
Researchers, affiliated with the Southern Baptists' LifeWay Christian Resources, defined "unchurched" as Christians who haven't attended church in six months as well as non-Christians such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists.

... and we go "Huh?" If your religious tradition doesn't actually have a church, can you really be unchurched? Could perhaps they choose a better word for non-Christians so they don't actually fulfill the unchurched view of Christians being 'judgmental and hypocritical'? Un-templed? Non-churched? Simply lapsed? Nonpracticing?

Sometimes I "attend" UCC services in Second Life, but I haven't in about a month, so if I keep that up will my avatar be virtually unchurched in five months?

I'm soaking up some of my Intro to Theology texts before school begins at the end of the month, and they stress that the importance of Christian life is found in community, so being "churched" does seem to be a fairly important deal. However, I think I've accomplished the same deep fellowship at the bar over cheese fries and coin $2.50 pitchers, and I wonder where the "church" part comes in. A modern take, if you will, on the meal in Emmaus, as there's a starchy main course and plenty of realization that the stranger in front of you might be the gal with the answers. So was I in church when I was unchurched?

What, then, is church? Church is never the building, as pretty as we make them, and it cannot be just the 11-to-noon-on-Sundays hour, which is still a fairly segregated hour. Do we take church with us or do we leave it behind to be picked up later? Is it the declaration of your religious affiliation that is church? The friends you make and family you create who share that burning need to orient themselves and the world to a new vision of how things really are or should be? Or is it just the world, as imperfect as it is, and all the lives you touch as you go through, trying to love a lot and harm as little as you can?

Are there walls, or just places where the light leaks in? Is it divided by time, or can the words on a page written millenia ago that let a reader commune with an author be one of the bridges that transcend the clock?

So I guess my original question is, is being "unchurched" a relavant state or just a judgment call?


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

This is something my wife deals with in a very real way - the unchurched, to her, are those who do not attend church. Period. We have been relatively sheltered from the reality of our increasingly religiously plural society, so perhaps a deeper examination of the question has not been necessary.

Having said all that, my wife feels a real calling to reach out to those without a church home, and offer one to them.

HapaThealogy said...

Is a church home a place where you can take off your shoes and put your feet up on the pew in front of you? ;)