I am often frustrated that I I always seem to have to point to Washington DC and The Church of the Saviour as example. I want something here, to tell my own stories of experiences with a “community of character” (as in Hauerwas’ book title) ; to write my own chapters of “Call to Commitment” , “Journey Inward, Journey Outward”, and “The New Community” (as in Elizabeth O’Connor’s titles).
I think this absence I’m experiencing has driven me into isolation. I’m not going anywhere On Sunday mornings. There’s a feeling that there’s something wrong with me, but I don’t know what that is, and that I just have a way about me that blocks me from finding that place where people will invite me in. But this is not the way the church should be; the call to be a formative community should make it MISSION 1 to be sure that our journeys are NOT unknown to each other.
A few years ago a church I was attending had a Sunday morning series of “Meet Our Members” where various people told their faith journey to a roomful of about 30 others. I did this one Sunday, and nobody spoke to me again of it , even though people should have realized that there was no opportunity for feedback after it since everybody had to get up and go on to the Worship Service which was starting. None of this was intentional, but it just illustrates how these kinds of efforts exist mostly as afterthoughts, and are not a structured, expected, obligation of church membership, like they are in communities like The Church of the Saviour where you can’t be a member without constant opportunities to connect and keep current with each other’s faith journeys. That led to my ultimately losing steam in my hopes (And EFFORTS) to find a sense of this common journey there. I drifted away (with one phone call from a member and a couple of emails from the next pastor, to which I responded with some subsequent efforts to “reintegrate” but found the same sense of isolated individuals with no sign of any intentional efforts to “structure” anything to promote and enable mutual accountability and support.
Sometimes I wonder if the church I long for is a pipe dream; that I am too impatient or idealistic. But I’m not just sensing imperfections. I’m feeling that the church is trapped and unable/unwilling to be any kind of match against the allures of our society and economy.