Yancey writes this: "Every week the Mustard Seed group recites the twelve steps together and as I listened they seemed to boil down to two big steps. One is radical honesty. These alcoholics and drug addicts can smell deception a mile away and have learned to be brutally honest about their flaws and failures. The second step is radical dependence. They know they cannot make it through another day without the help of their friends and without the help of God. It occurred to me...that my own church could use a refreshed course on these very two steps. People can fake it in church--"How's it going?" "O fine, fine." When in truth a marriage is falling apart, a teenager has run away. "Need any help?" "No, no, everything's fine, the Lord is good."
Then, later he writes: "Many of the most spiritual addicts I know avoid church because they view it as a place for people who have it all together. Oh, my! I can think of far more entertaining ways to spend my Sunday mornings if I already have it together. I go to church as an expression of my need for God and for God's family. So often however, I leave with an empty feeling because church covers reality with a veneer of respectability. What have we done that we communicate church as a place for well people rather than a place to get well?"
That's what an oasis is, isn't it? A place to get well, to be rescued, to recover. A place for honesty and openness. What reading this did for me was to say, "you know what, we're pretty close to this." Just over the past couple of weeks, we've had people come in and say, "I'm having trouble with my child" and "My marriage is in bad shape." We want to be this kind of place, where grace and love and acceptance provides an environment of healing instead of judgment and un-grace. There's always of course room to grow. It's still hard to drop the masks and let others see us for who and what we really are. There's still some stiffness in our get togethers--we need to relax and be together as friends and family instead of feeling like we're in a church service! Like we're hanging out in someone's family room together. (I think it's those dang benches--how can you not feel like you're in at a performance of some kind?) But I'm so so grateful that many of you have taken the risk to say, "I don't have it all together. I'm hurting. I need my family's support."
"I have a feeling that if the watching world saw the church as a place that welcomes broken people for healing, it might have a greater impact than all our sophisticated outreach programs put together." I think I agree with that. It's what I want for us--a family that is real with each other. And not just because I'm a neb nose (don't get me started on western Pennsylvania-ese!). It's becasue we should be a fmaily