Monday, March 22

Why I don't go to church

The following incident surfaced from the recesses of my mind this morning as I read David Fitch's post on "6 Reasons Not To Go To Church."

In the early 80's I had a very strange teacher for a class in scripture reading at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was an actor and the class involved coaching students in the public reading of the Bible. (He shall remain nameless but I'm guessing that there are a lot of Fuller alum from that era who know of whom I speak.)

This professor had a bit of a secondary not-so-hidden agenda. He thought that God had providentially placed him at Fuller Theological Seminary to shake-up lazy students (and some of the faculty) -- to get them on what he thought was the right path spiritually.

He was quite opinionated.

On the second day of class, from the very beginning, the teacher was in a mood -- ranting on and on about how seminarians failed to measure up. And he said, "I bet many of you don't even go to church!"

Then he asked, "How many of you go to church?"

Everyone in the class raised a hand -- except me.

I had misread the whole situation. I thought that the ranting was all a part of a pedagogical act -- a play that he was putting on to try and make some kind of theological point. And I certainly wasn't going to be duped by his trick question.

When I didn't raise my hand he got redder and redder, and started making outrageous and not very pastoral statements about spiritual immaturity -- obviously directed toward me. Then he blurted out, "Well, at least you're honest!"

There was a dramatic pause as he stared through me. Then he asked, "So, why don't you go to church?"

He, of course, knew the answer. In his mind I was an immature jerk wasting the time of all the seminary faculty. But I didn't realize what was going on in his head until later because I still thought he was acting. (It took me awhile to figure out his idiosyncrasies.)

At that point I confidently replied, "Well, none of us go to church because from a biblical and theological standpoint church isn't someplace we go. It is who we are."

There was a long pause, and he said in his manicured actor's voice, "That is the strangest thing I've ever heard."

The professor quickly changed the subject and the class went on.

It dawned on me at that point that while he had been trained as an actor, he probably hadn't ever taken a class in Bible or theology. He had no idea as to what I was saying.

I did eventually get an A- in that class. However, in his final comments he told me that I was "different" (read "weird") but that my reading skills had improved.

I know that I'm different but I still don't go to church.


JavaJeff said...

You're part of a fine fraternity with the "weird" label. I once had an esteemed administrator tell me the I was "cut out of a different cloth." But he said it was a good thing.

Brad said...

One of our younger pastors used to wear a great t-shirt to work occasionally. The front boldly stated "Don't Go To Church!". After a moment of shock, one would realize that the back said "BE the Church".