Part of that human connection that I’ve been missing has been becoming involved in a church. I grew up going to the Lutheran Church and became a Baptist when I was fifteen. As a young person, it gave a young introvert an accepting group of nurturing people and a real sense of belonging. Plus, I enjoyed the practices of worship, prayer, and study. However, as I grew older, I did not like a lot of the messages that were being taught to me, although I never felt that the intention was based in any kind of malice. Nevertheless, there were certain dogmatic limitations that I felt confined my experience of God to a mission statement that was written for me, yet without any of my own input.
Stubborn, rebellious creature that I am, this frustration gave way to a variety of what those whose company I kept would consider “sinful behaviors.” I won’t bother to name them all here, but suffice it to say that some were considered “sinful” for the practical reason that they hurt me. Others were considered “sinful” because they deviated from the accepted norm. However, through any behavior I may have partaken, I never felt as if I was outside or away from the presence of God. Nevertheless, I do miss the warmth of Him shining through people who have a more conscious connection with Him, and so I have begun to search for a church that my wife and I might begin attending together.
Considering our different upbringings and variances in belief systems – she was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness for many years – finding a church with a doctrine we can agree upon can be a bit of a challenge. So I recently began looking at websites of churches in the area that I found promising as at least a place to visit, if not a place to call home. Most of them had a page devoted to the tenets of the church, and as I began to look through the various congregational agreements, I noticed something very interesting. Many of them had written the exact same thing.
Now obviously, they all shared a Christian background so a certain amount of similarities are to be expected. But more than a handful were verbatim. They used the exact same words. Cut and pasted.
At first it was frustrating because I knew that there were certain tenets that either my wife or I do not agree with and would not like to build a foundation upon. However, then I began to get a little discouraged over the sheer laziness of it all, the lack of vibrancy and conscious attention that should be given to creating a statement of faith. Surely, sharing the very building blocks of your faith to people you’re trying to disciple should deserve more attention and cultivation than plagiarism.
Steve McAllister is an actor, musician, accomplished author, filmmaker, and the man behind Your Daily Groove at Modern Hippie Mag. His most recent novel, The McAllister Code is available as an e-book at www.themcallistercode.com and will be available in paperback on 1/11/11. Find Steve on Twitter, @InkenSoul. Read his reviews and articles here.