Q & R: Heart-wrenching to think ...
Here's the Q:
In your recent article about Convergence Christianity, you said,"My general hunch is that in the short run, the most conservative streams of Christianity -- in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox settings alike -- will constrict, tighten up, batten the hatches, raise the boundary fences, demand greater doctrinal, political, and behavioral conformity, and monitor boundaries with increased vigilance. Doing so will increase commitment (and anxiety) among the "true believers," but it will also drive away their younger, more educated, and less isolated members.”
This is so true. You have no idea how true! Our family just had to (painfully) leave a church situation that did exactly as you predicted! The problem is, we live in [a small city in the South) and after lots and lots of visiting churches, reading church websites, and asking around, there doesn’t seem to be a faith community for a liberal leaning, progressive, questioning, passionate, trying-to-be-a-Christ-follower like myself. It is heart wrenching to think I might have to leave church completely and fulfill the second part of your prediction and “drift into nominal faith and become tacit devotees of secular consumerism.”
I feel like I am at a dead end and am desperate. I thought that because of your connections you may know of a church body in this area that is making Convergence Christianity happen (or even just on the right track toward the kind of faith you talk about so beautifully in your books). I deeply appreciate any help you can offer us lost pilgrims : ) Thank you!
Here's the R:
Thanks for your encouraging words. I should note that I've heard from some young Evangelicals since writing that article who said the opposite, basically, "No, we want to be more conservative. We like certainty. We aren't being driven away at all. We appreciate the clear and fixed boundaries." Based on my experience over the years, I'd say they might feel differently five or ten years from now (or twenty - when they have kids who come of age). But for now, they're thrilled with the drift to the right. So the same quest for certainty that drives some away gives others a sense of security and belonging - just as the quest for new understandings that inspires some of us gives others a sense of lostness and vertigo. We really are different people with different issues, needs, and desires!
I've been talking for several years to friends about the need for some sort of website that helps people find hospitable congregations. It doesn't exist yet, but if someone would like to donate fifteen or twenty thousand dollars (or maybe five or ten?), I know some folks who could create such a site (and keep it updated, which is critical). You'll find a good start at what's needed here on the Emergent Village site:
Another needed resource is Darkwood Brew, which you can explore here:
And there are other ideas several of us are gestating. Stay tuned. In the meantime, maybe you have some friends you can invite over for dinner and dialogue every week? You could watch Darkwood Brew together ... or discuss a book ... or share a short liturgy of prayer and Scripture readings. Could be the start of something...