Where I pause before proceeding with this series to tell you about the necessary parameters of the project, and — because I feel like I am about to poke a bees nest — the disclaimers.
One Moment Please
“My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” As I initially waded into the first parts of this project (inspired by my local Farmer’s Market) I quickly came to understand that I bit off more than I can chew.
– Yes I am interested, hungry to discover more about the larger idea of ‘church’ by beginning with a bit of exploration in my quirky little mountain town.
– Yes, with this series I have had a surge of new interest on my blog and a sudden spike in subscribers (Welcome, new subscribers!).
– And yes, I have already visited two churches. In the last post I noted that the church trek would begin here, with the first church on my list. I am ready to get going!
However, turns out I needed to pause for a bit. There are a whole lot of local faith communities in my town. More than I thought. If I visit all of the churches in the area I will still be doing tis project in the fall of 2016. That’s … well … too much, really.
Before heading forward, I backed up a bit in order to build some specific and more realistic project parameters. So, before we proceed with the first church on my trek, I thought you should hear what I’ve been working on, behind the scenes.
The number of faith communities in relation to population is a little staggering up here on the mountain. So, I set out to create a list which limits the participating communities and narrows the scope. For the record, my long list of potential churches is nothing compared to the nearest city. Down the mountain, Colorado Springs has a reputation as the conservative Christian mecca in the United States. It is home to power house ministries like Focus on the Family, Young Life, Navigators, YWAM, Compassion International, and New Life Church. Christian radio stations abundantly populate the FM dial. Christian bookstores are easy to locate. And, there are a LOT of churches. A lot.
I got side-tracked in my research and spent some time flipping through the lists of churches in the Springs. The longer the list got, the more I felt a familiar burn and nag at my core. It’s the same bothersome question that follows me around lately: Why do we have so many churches and so few that will actually interact and relate with each other?
I am bothered with this question. (I asked a similar question on my Facebook page a few weeks back and got some really interesting answers. You can go check that out in the direct link at the end of this post). The question grows out of the same space in my brain that is currently questioning American Christian wealth, and power and elitism. I wrestle with the legacy of American protestantism which constantly measures the threats of The Wrongs vs The Rights and defends The Correct from The Incorrect. Not to sound all utopian, but I wonder about our tendency to go to separate corners and build separate buildings and create separate mission statements. In my experience, we don’t generally behave like we are all a part of the same “one body” and “one Spirit” as described in the Bible.*
Hopefully my burning (and probably naive) question will fuel some open dialogue and bring some clarity. In the meantime, back to the point, I have narrowed my list of faith communities.
For research purposes, I have chosen to visit a significant sampling of churches which:
- Are local, meaning, reasonably close to my house
- Demonstrate a fair cross-section of “Christian” denominations and backgrounds.
- Currently meet in a local church building
- Profess belief in Jesus
- I will not name the exact names of the churches I explore, as I want this to be a larger conversation about going local with faith community rather than a small conversation about specific churches.
- I will attend each community’s worship service 2 or 3 times.
- I will not dress up ‘churchy’. I will wear jeans and/or similar every day clothes.
- I will contribute tithe.
- I will read the mission statement.
- I reserve the right to arbitrarily exclude communities which exhibit dangerous community practices or cultic characteristics.
- I will set up an interview with a church leader, priest, or pastor.
- I will ask the question, “Why Is your church necessary when there are so many other churches in the area?”
I am not an expert. I have a lifetime wealth of personal and professional experience in the conservative evangelical American protestant church. That said, what I write on this blog may not reflect a scholarly body of knowledge — the kind that might come from any number of people who are smarter and wiser than me. Any views I express about the faith communities I visit are unapologetically from my limited personal experience. I am committed to being as fair and objective as possible. My opinions are simply offered to be considered and weighted as opinions which are open for discussion.
I am a Jesus Follower. This mountain church experiment will openly embrace and explore various views and religious affiliations or denominations. Most any day of the week I am totally game for conversations about different world religions. However, the scope of this particular project is limited to faith communities which claim and in some way adhere to a Christian belief system.
We will be civil. Feel free to respond, challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (including trolling, abusive, profane, or rude comments). I am the sole moderator of the content of this site, so we are going to keep it civil.
There you have it.
Your Turn … Your Question
I just mentioned my burning question about why there are so many churches in my region. And now I’d like to know yours.
I tossed the following question out to my subscribers and got a load of great hard-hitting responses. So I am opening up the opportunity. What’s your burning question(s)? Go ahead leave me your question in the Comment section. Or, if you don’t want your question to be quite so public, feel free to message me in the Contact tab up on the top of the website.
As I’m formulating my own questions for pastors, priests, and elders, I’d love to consider yours as well.
If you’d like to make sure you are a part of the Church Trek experience, please subscribe HERE. You’ll get a weekly Saturday update anytime there is new content, and I will occasionally check in with this group as I need specific help or insight. (Because yes, I do NEED HELP on a regular basis.)
NEXT … the first church on my Mountain Church Trek. Really.
Unless I get bogged down in more disclaimers. : )
*Referenced: The Bible, Ephesians 4:4-6
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”