One of the most common criticisms I get for the way this blog is written is that I spend so much time criticizing and exposing the problem and not enough time giving solutions. This criticism in itself enrages a part of me, but that part of me is largely rooted in pride and due to several recent conversations with various individuals that I care for and respect deeply, I have seen that this criticism might be legitimate. None of us like to hear that we are wrong, but that is what I am asking many people to consider, so it is only fitting that I get a dose myself.
I think one important thing to explain is why I write this blog. The reasons have evolved over time and where it is now is nowhere near where it was when I began. I think it is worthwhile to explain that evolution.
I started writing a blog about the church a couple years ago. That was when the blog was titled The Ekklesia in Southern Maine. Prior to that I had spent a couple years in seminary in North Carolina, had gone through a seriously difficult time where everything I had planned fell apart and then, through God’s grace, He put new things, much better things, in my life. After going through a painful divorce and leaving seminary a semester short of graduation I was left very confused and afraid of what the future would hold for me. Then Stephanie sent me a message on Facebook one day. We started talking and spending time together and we decided to start a family. She is everything to me. Our family is everything to me. As we started to have kids I realized that I couldn’t just opt out of Christian community forever, as this would be very detrimental to both her and our children. This was the point when I started The Ekklesia in Southern Maine blog. The intent was to journal our process of trying to reach out to other believers and become part of a Christian community. Early on I shared weekly updates as to the things that we were doing in that process and found many opportunities to meet others in our area interested in gathering outside of the traditional church system. That was hard work and slowly that started to fade to the background to the point where it was no longer part of what we were doing and therefore no longer part of the blog.
After this the blog, still under the same name became a place to discuss these issues in a theological framework. Many people who both agreed and disagreed with me were engaging on the blog and discussing these issues primarily from an intellectual/theological approach. I enjoyed those conversations and learned things from them that helped me to understand where I was and where the church was better, but then my family went through a difficult time and I stopped writing.
I left the blog dormant for quite awhile as I invested my writing into less personal things like zombie fiction and book and music reviews. I enjoy writing that stuff, but it was hard to be disengaged from the conversation. Surprisingly I found that the blog had become a place where I had a community of people to interact with about theological issues and I missed that, but the truth is that it was serving no one in my family but me. I was meeting many interesting and intelligent people online who helped me think through things, but we did not share a life together and my family did not have anyone to interact with. I was starting to feel the way they felt all along and I knew that it was important to start thinking of how we would get involved with other believers. I thought a lot about it, but did nothing about it.
The struggles that we went through during that time exposed, in a real way, a lot of the issues I had been writing about. I was starting to see that the theological errors I saw were impacting people in their real lives, and were not simply intellectual exercises for many including my family. As this realization began to dawn in me, my disagreement with the church system moved from my mind to my heart. I was, and am, very saddened and angry at the way that the system has misrepresented Christ and has hurt people in His name. I think it does severe damage to the leaders, the followers, the cast offs, and Christ.
As this anger and sadness grew in me, I felt like it might help to write this stuff down. I thought that it might help make a little more sense of the jumbled emotional and intellectual struggles I was having inside me. That it might help bring it all together and make sense of it. That was when I started writing again. That was when I changed the blog to Some Church Stuff. The intent was to write my thoughts and work through them. It was not meant to impact other people, and the only reason that I wanted others to read it was to help me work through this stuff. I decided that it was important, for that reason, to share straight from my heart, and not to water it down or make it palatable for others.
This helped me a lot. It helped me to connect my emotional and intellectual struggles and see that they were one-in-the-same, just expressed and felt differently. The problem was that it was also pissing some people off. Honestly I didn’t expect anyone to pay much attention to my ramblings but some people did. Due to this, more people started finding my blog. More people started contacting me to criticize, but also to encourage me.
This was when the focus of the blog shifted yet again. Many of the people who contacted me with encouragement shared their struggles with me. They shared their personal stories of hurt and condemnation from various churches all over the country. This did two things. It fueled and legitimized my anger, and it got me to start thinking about how I could maybe encourage those people who have been cast off by the church. I thought that maybe if they saw that the church system did not represent God or true Biblical Christianity that they might be willing to reconsider their faith. That is a very high hope and I don’t know if I am or am not doing that, but that is my desire.
Now I feel like the blog might be moving into a new season. I feel like I have clearly stated what I believe is the problem. This has helped me substantially, and now I feel like my heart is moving on. Moving on from anger toward the system to peace in Him. This, in no way, means that my feelings have changed about the problems, about how grave and destructive they are. It simply means that there is One who has overcome these things, can teach us what no system of the world can teach, to truly trust in Him and Him alone.
I’m sure that I will still write things that piss off people. I’m sure that many do not and will not agree with me. I’m not sure if this will or won’t help anyone, but I feel like it is time to start shifting toward Him as I shift away from the system that, as I have explained plainly, does not represent Him.
So, this post is meant as an apology in the sense of an explanation. Explaining why I write what I do and why I write the way I do and explaining where I intend to go. My writing has flowed from my heart. I hope to continue that. The scary thing is what my writing will expose of where my heart is. If I struggle to find hope and strength in Him and continually go back to my anger toward the system I am afraid of what that might say to me about me, but it will be where my heart is and understanding that is very valuable to me. I hope that we can all grow together. Many of you have been a huge encouragement to me and taught me many important things. Thank you for that, and please, both critics and supporters, please continue to share your thoughts.