I’m not talking about architecture here, although that may play a role in your vision. Rather, I am talking about inventing a church that you would find most inspirational to attend.
In my case, church services have often been uninspired — and uninspiring.. They have been way too canned, processed and sanitized. So for me, my new church would be a place that was totally authentic. You could come as you are and be who you are. You would not have to put on your “church face” for the occasion.
Church would be more of a gathering place where people share from the heart. It would be less of a place to pack people in to hear someone pontificate.
Church would involve intimate interaction like a support group. It would provide a vortex of unconditional love from within which people learn, grow, solve problems, and care for one another.
REAL LIFE SPOKEN HERE
It would be a place where real people could share their real selves, which includes the ugly parts as well as the mighty and lofty. That is, it would be a place of healing. People could say, “I feel empty. I feel bewildered. I feel lost. I feel overwhelmed. I feel angry. I feel repulsed.” Whatever it is they could come showing their true feelings and place them and themselves in the love vortex.
You could also “come as you are” to church if you were in a delicious state of bliss and wanted to share your good cheer with others. Church can be joyful. Laughter is allowed. The bright lights help others walk through the thick gray fog.
Or it would be a place where you could just come to be and not feel as if you had to do anything. You would not be forced or coerced to participate. You could just soak it in, contemplate, and heal.
At the same time, church would also provide a stimulating and encouraging atmosphere for stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Church would be a place where you could accept the challenge of working through fears that keep people stuck in their ruts. Life often overwhelms us because we feel so alone, and this would be a place where one could feel included and supported in taking steps to create a stronger, more potent lifestyle.
I have heard the expression “thank you God” spoken a lot at churches. Sometimes that expression still triggers the idea that someone is instructing me to thank an entity who dwells outside of myself. (I grew up learning that God is a judgmental being, a loving yet demanding personality.) I want a church where I know that I thank God by all that I do there, whether it is meditating, gazing into someone’s eyes, hugging, singing, chanting, listening attentively, sharing from my experiences, whatever else.
I feel that we are each a droplet of the ocean that is God. I want a church where I enact “thank you God” by moving among people and interacting with them, by being love, by being light. As such, my church would not be a religion with a set of beliefs and a claim to any truth. Rather, it would be a place to walk the talk of love.
TALKING IN THE OPEN
I want a church where people can discuss things openly and honestly. That includes a bunch of real world problems and experiences.
- Did you just lose someone important to you and are dealing with grief?
- Are you bored in your marriage and are contemplating an affair or divorce or are already in the clutches of a new lust?
- Are you searching for more meaning in your relationship — because there should be more than this?
- Are you single and filled with the ache of loneliness or starved for human touch and intimate companionship?
- Have you had a paranormal experience, such as a near-death experience, seen a vision, heard a voice, been visited by a spirit entity, and want some clarity?
- Are you ill and are afraid of death or dealing with isolation or rejection?
- Are you down on your luck or mired in depression? Are you plagued by a stalker or an arch-rival?
- Are you having problems justifying the unethical things your employer wants you to do?
- Is guilt from something you did (and maybe didn’t get caught doing) eating you alive?
- Are you unsure how to find and identify the voice of God (that others feel so confident they’re hearing?)
Whatever it is, I would like to see church (or by extension the spiritual community that radiates from the church) be a place where I could find answers and contribute to others finding answers to life’s challenges. I would like church to be like the campfire where the tribe could gather around and help each other work through life issues through sharing and, listening.
My personal spiritual beliefs hold that this is Earth School. We come here life after life to learn things. As such, we’re always being thrown curves and a few bean balls by some professor-in-spirit. Just when you think you have a handle on your life, something new happens to test your wisdom and flexibility. Church could provide a wonderful forum for helping us negotiate our lessons.
To that end, I would like to see church having a fluid structure. The use of church time could move as it had to move, not as some timed, predetermined flow chart dictated. People could come and go as they needed. Seating would be circular to facilitate more of a feeling of community.
If the flow triggered some “heavy stuff,” such as someone was working through a desperate situation, the structure could be fluid enough to assist healing. If the flow moved into “lightness of being,” people could surf the waves of delight without clock-watching.
In my church, there would be plenty of hugging and music and dance and other energy-enhancing activities that celebrate the spirit.
Church would facilitate love thy neighbor with inclusive, welcoming love. This would not be a polite yet shallow façade; it would be real. This kind of love welcomes diversity of all types. The spiritual community would be a safe harbor as well as a means to generate love; it would be a love power plant. It would be a place to blast through pain. It would be a place to share joy in all its forms.
None of what I have presented above is far from the mark of little highlights I have experienced in different venues over the years. I would like to make it less of a highlight and more of a norm.