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Equipping Your Reimagine Journey

Reimagine...VERY Carefully!

Rev. Daryl G. Rahfeldt, Ph.D.

Maybe I'm just old and have been through a lot. I am in the last years of earthly life and perhaps am realizing what is really important.

As a Christian, retired pastor, and theologian, I have come to the conclusion that right doctrine is the main thing. Without that, the church has little to offer, and the church's people just drift aimlessly, looking for this and that experience. I've seen every human-devised method for evangelism and doing church fail to produce results and lead the church into a kind of shallow cultural accommodation. Much of the church is so much like the culture that it has nothing to offer a lost person. The church is just as lost as the society around it.

To be honest,  I pray every day that the churches that are not proclaiming Christ and him crucified as their primary message will either repent or close.

As our society becomes more and more pagan, those churches will become completely irrelevant, anyhow. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I am afraid that it is pretty close to the truth. Seeker churches, the emergent church, the purpose-driven church, and the progressive church are just misdirected efforts to try to woo people to Christ by taking away much of what the church is supposed to be and represent because of a fear that non-Christians won't like it or that it will be alien to contemporary culture.

The church in America has been doing that for too long, and those efforts have given us preachers who tell us we can have all our dreams fulfilled by thinking positive thoughts and declaring positive words to ourselves. The church has also become enamored with the various New Thought and New Age gurus who appear on Oprah from time to time.

Unless the church returns to it's biblical, Apostolic, and historic roots, no amount of "reimagining" will insure it's continued health or bring about the salvation of a single soul.

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For those of you with a complicated relationship with church right now:
I was a Church Baby from the womb. I came up through the youth group, church camp, See You At The Pole, purity culture, Acquire the Fire, DC Talk, rededicate your life to God subculture. I went to a Baptist college and got married at 19 because sex and young adulthood only belonged to marriage.
I was a pastor's wife through several iterations of church: conservative pull-entirely-out-of-the-evil-world church, cool church with SNL clips on Sunday mornings, missional church that was entirely outward facing (I started that one with Brandon). I've spoken and taught at every type of church, denomination, ideological space, and power structure.
I haven't virtually attended church in six months, maybe longer.
To be immediately clear: I love my weird little church that has evolved into something with much more depth and courage. It is a trustworthy space with beloved people. It is a good neighbor to our city.
But I started that church with a partner, so now I feel a strange disorientation, a founder whose life veered shockingly off course, alone with the ghosts of the sanctuary. And as it has become clear the last five years, most of what I was taught as gospel standards turned out to be entirely optional, able to be abandoned for power, or greed, or lies. To put it succinctly: church confuses me. I am adrift inside it for the first real time in my life.
I remain stubbornly attached to Jesus, devil be damned. Something inside that connection stays tender and gentle and true. He is the center that holds for me. But even that relationship is different.
My therapist Carissa told me Friday: "You are now able to be known by Jesus in entirely new ways. You have never experienced his love for you in these broken places, because they have never been broken before." So that is new. That is a new side of Jesus I am figuring out, the one who loves me in shattered places, the one who understands the sanctuary ghosts and lets me watch CBS Sunday Morning instead of church without shame.
Church to me right now feels like my best friends, my porch bed, my children and parents and siblings. It feels like meditation and all these leaves on my 12 pecan trees. It feels like Ben Rector on repeat. It feels like my kitchen, and my table, and my porch. It feels like Jesus who never asked me to meet him anywhere but in my heart.
I guess I am holding space this morning for anyone for whom church feels complicated; struggling with your own ghosts. Jesus is near and good and dear wherever you are, however you are. Outside the sanctuary but also inside it too, because he will be found by those who are looking. Wherever you meet Jesus, and his people, and his love for the world, and his ways, and his healing work, it is good.
It is good.
You are good.
Jesus is good.
This is all I know for now.

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