I know I shouldn’t be, but I remain somewhat surprised by people’s general perception (or perhaps better said, assumption) of church culture, which includes how we gather, and I suppose just our general persona. A few observations:
1. One of the things that I say a lot, which I now believe I’ll say repeatedly for the rest of my life, is that the church doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have an agenda that culminates on itself. In other words, the church isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about self promotion. Even though I understand why it’s the case, I still find it a little strange that people are surprised when they find out that we give out homeless care packs that have absolutely nothing in them or on them about PHCC. I suppose I’m a little saddened that it’s generally assumed that every church, when they do something “for” someone else, it has strings attached or contains an ulterior motive. But they have good reason to assume that. However, I’m interested in convincing our neighborhood otherwise.
2. We’re nothing like what you see on TV. If I can be completely honest, I’d like to invite most TV preachers out to an alley for a little boxing match. I think it’d make for a good network reality series. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, but be honest; it’d be lots of fun. Actually, they’ve got a decent thing going. It’s smart. If I were smart (or if I had the resources) I’d broadcast PHCC gatherings on the internet so people could see what we look like without having to actually show up on campus, the same way the TV guys do. I just wouldn’t talk about “sowing $50 seeds”. Or wear a shiny suit. Or use a handkerchief. Or blink uncontrollably. If you haven’t been to a church gathering in a while, you might be surprised that most of us are actually quite “normal”.
3. I can say this confidently about PHCC, as well as several other area churches that I know personally. These churches are all about PERMISSION. “What do you mean, Chad?” Did you know that there is absolutely no reason to “clean yourself up” before you show up to a church gathering? I mean teeth-brushing and deodorant are encouraged. What I mean is, you don’t need to get your junk together. You need not put on your Sunday best, nor do you need to try and be someone else. Just be yourself. Need more than just my take on it? Check it out: “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!” (Matthew 28:16-17). This is right after Jesus’ resurrection, after he appeared to the women, and he told them to tell the disciples where to go meet up with him.
The disciples. The ones that lived with him. They saw him do all kinds of crazy and awesome stuff. Even some of them doubted. But the point isn’t that some of them doubted. The point is that there were those that doubted and there were those that believed. By Gods grace, they were all at different points in their convinced-ness. This is a beautiful picture of the local church; a collective of people, all at different points in the journey. Some of them doubt, some of them believe. And they each give each other permission to be right where they are, trusting God to show up.
I’ve noticed…he’s been showing up a lot lately for people.