It's been a little while since I've written about Nexus. My last post about the honeymoon being over drew some interesting and completely unexpected responses. As you may know, Nexus is the start-up United Church of Christ I've been attending for about a year now. The church is "progressive" (I'm learning that means different things to different people) and is open and affirming. The first year at Nexus has been great. Ty and I are heavily involved in what we feel is a worthwhile endeavor to bring a message of social justice, inclusivity and unlimited grace to a place where most people might thing progressive Christianity is an oxymoron. I joined Nexus partly because I could get something out of it, but mostly because I believe a church like Nexus is desperately needed here in Southwest, Ohio.
I've been involved in church in one way or another for over 40 years. While I've never been ordained or paid for my work, I think I have a different perspective on church than your average congregant. My grandfather was the pastor of a very large church that I attended until he died. And, I've been heavily involved as a lay person in churches. The role of a pastor is a tough job. In fact, it's almost impossible. We ask pastors to be CEO, psychologist, marriage counselor, motivational speaker, music director, entertainment coordinator, etc., etc. Even little Nexus, with what would seem to be a singular vision of "progressive" Christianity, we have already seen little cracks and splits as each of us brings a slightly different perspective of what church should be. Some people seem to become outraged when these things happen and accuse the "system". The only accusation should go to human nature. Get more than one person in any organization and you're going to have some disagreement/conflict/strife.
When it comes to church, I think it's especially difficult to make an organization work. Some come to be entertained. " Just give me a rockin' band". Some come out of guilt or obligation. "Get me in, get me out and let me check it off my list." Some come to get a Sunday school experience. "Tell me what I need to know.". Some come for the social experience. "Let's skip the music and the sermon and just hang out and talk." Some think the church should be about doing good in the community. "Instead of having a meeting, let's go out and do something." Even when it comes to those who are there for the music, some want to rock and some want to sing hymns. Who can bring all of this together?
Since my last post, a couple of things have happened. Both were unexpected. I was invited to join the Nexus Marketing Group to help develop content and a marketing strategy to get the name of Nexus in front of more people. I was also asked to join the Governing Council, the group at Nexus who helps set the direction for the church. I gladly joined both groups because I believe passionately in the vision of Nexus. I will do what I can to help Nexus spread the message which I think is a vital part of Christianity that has been lost. In addition to these "management" roles at Nexus, I helped serve soup (that's me in the background of the picture below) and I'm on the rotation to do the set up on Sunday mornings.
The Marketing Group has gotten off to a great start. We have had an article published in the local newspapers. The article features our effort to raise a ton of food for local food pantries. An interesting thing happened though. In one of the newspapers the article ran in, the caption said (in part) "Pastor Gregg Brekke of United Church of Satan..." That's right. The person who typed the caption mistakenly put Satan in place of Christ in the caption. Who knows why? Did she associate us with Satan because we are adamant about being open and affirming? Was it a legitimate mistake? IMO, there's no such thing as bad publicity. If nothing else, this typo probably prompted more people to read the article and find out just what this "Church of Satan" was doing holding a Lenten Food Drive. Click on the image to read the article.
We have added several new attendees over the last couple of months. That's good news. We have a great new music leader. Chip has only been with us a few weeks but his passion for the music shows through each Sunday. Chip is still putting his stamp on things. But, he's off to a fantastic start. He's got the "girls" in the band rocking and rolling and really drawing out their talents. Today, Aaron Klinefelter was our guest speaker. He did a great job. But, what I enjoyed as much as the job he did with giving us his words was the way he incorporated the "talk back" time right into the talk. I got to hear perspectives from many people in the church who never speak up (including Ty). That was really cool.
Personally (after all this is my blog), I am still very enthusiastic about Nexus. Sunday morning still isn't my cup of tea and probably never will be. This is one of those things I'll probably just have to accept. On one of the Universalist email groups I'm on we're very split on the whole idea of church attendance. I don't think any of us are adamant that anyone must attend church. But, there are those who are almost violently opposed to the idea. Many of those who have dropped out have educated themselves on the history and the corruption of the church (see my review of Pagan Christianity if you want to know a little more about that). Knowing how we got where we are can make dropping out very tempting. But, while I don't think anyone should attend church out of a sense of obligation, the idols that some people have made out of "freedom" and "individuality" are disturbing to me. I think we all have an obligation to each other. All of us should be "serving" in some sort of community for the sake of others and for our own sakes. I don't care if that's called a church, a sangha (the Buddhist term for community) or some other setting. I watched Sicko Friday night (finally) and one thing that that struck me and really hurt me was the fact that other countries in the world recognize that it's barbaric to allow people to die for lack of money. The people interviewed were genuinely shocked that anyone would even charge for health care. Yet, in America, we can't even agree that everyone should be covered by health insurance. I know people who are just appalled at the idea that anyone should be "forced" to have insurance that could literally save their life. I just don't get it. But, again I digress...
So, yes, the honeymoon is over, as I wrote before. But, as I wrote before, the relationship is still worth working on and I continue to look for ways I can help with the mission at Nexus.