Who Is Church For?

In a recent online Unitarian Universalist discussion about church growth, someone asked a question about why some parts of Unitarian Universalism are harder explain than “to profess a love for your imaginary friend.” By this, I can only assume that the originator of the post referred to the profession of love for God (or Jesus). This came on the heels of a sermon I recently heard that included an (older) poem by a Unitarian minister that openly made fun of other faiths and made the point how much better Unitarians are than other irrational faiths. And, to top it off, I attended a Unitarian Universalist Christmas concert in December that made fun of important parts of the Christmas story.

I almost cannot breathe when I hear these sorts of things. It is so profoundly dismissive to one’s love of God to say “love of your imaginary friend.” I certainly do not take these thoughtless and dismissive comments personally. I am more concerned with what this says to the world about the Unitarian Universalist faith. You know, what it says to people who are hurting, searching, and longing and turning to the church for support and guidance. I am embarrassed for Unitarian Universalists. How will anyone ever take us seriously about our messages of love and inclusion if we actively and routinely make fun of other faith traditions?

I can hear the defenses ringing in my head. Everyone is not perfect, right? We all make mistakes! Oh, can’t we just have a sense of humor? Oh, don’t be so defensive!

But for me, what this raises is the question of who the church is for. Unitarian Universalists are not alone in struggling with this, of course, so don’t think I mean this only for this context. But we certainly have an issue here. Is the church for us – the people already in the inside, who know and love each other, who believe pretty similar things and know better than those who don’t? Who know better than those people out there? Those folks that have “imaginary” best friends they call God?

Or, is the church for the world? Are we about love freely given? Unconditionally? Are we about healing those who hurt? Are we about radical hospitality? Are we about facing our own demons and pushing through that even when it is hard and soul wrenching because the world needs us? Are we about getting over ourselves?

We are not a club, people. We are a faith. If you want a liberal rational club for smart people who don’t believe silly things, a place where you giggle knowingly about those other people, please don’t hold your meetings in The Church because the The Church is for Everyone.

9 Responses to Who Is Church For?

  1. uuMomma says:

    Thank you for this.

  2. PeaceBang says:

    I love not being the only one to rant about this. Bless you.

  3. revd4 says:

    Take heart, you’re in the emerging majority. Just keep leading faithfully, we need you.

  4. Jeff R says:

    Well, I go to church and keep my faith to myself. I am always critical of everything done at the church and about the church. Our faith is a faith where you can laugh. It is also a faith with serious inclinations.

    We are a living faith, much like Buddhism or Hinduism. While members of our community can seem nasty about religion, they are still coming together to work for a religious or spiritual end, and we exert our love and charity as religions do. Many have a faith in spirituality of many sorts. Yes, we are inclined to accept atheists and mythologists but make no quarrel, we are serious about faith. I find the trends of pushing the limits is something that bothers me in bits. Going from Protestantism to refusing to be Protestant but rather a religious community is like asking a question, “What is UUism?” or telling a child not to do something and it responds but going above and against your direction. I like to consider our faith a Protestant faith which is a living (faith)/(tradition) which needs reflection before allowing our youth to determine the nature of the Church as a whole.

    There is unity in the heart of our faith and if you don’t pay attention it will go over your head. Church is for anyone and I will endorse anyone of goodwill who participates independent of churches/individually or as churchgoers. Both have a place in the nature of the respective churches in the world.

  5. UUs Know Who says:

    I submitted a comment that seems to have disappeared into thin cyberspace twice now. I expect that you will find it in your SPAM folder although it is far from being SPAM and very much on topic.

    Please post it here.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Robin, I have blocked your posts from my blog because they are often disrespectful and unkind, which, ironically, is the very thing that this post is about. If I ever see any indication that you treat Unitarian Universalists, among others, with the sort of kindness and respect that I find to be acceptable on my blog, I will unblock you.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. May we keep loving, breathing, and doing what we can…

  7. jeremiahmyer says:

    Reblogged this on Moonstruck and commented:
    very true

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: