Sunday, April 6, 2014

Joining Church: Is a Disclaimer Needed?

I'm often reminded of what the great comedian Groucho Marx said about membership in a group: "I refuse to join any organization that will have me as one of its members."  Would admitting our flaws protect us against ourselves?

In groups explaining church membership, I find it helpful to admit that every day, someone is going to say or do something stupid because after all, that's what human beings do. See also Beginnings: An Introduction to Christian Faith.  

This is how Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics close many of their meetings. It's a wise disclaimer stating that even our best intentions are not always apparent to those who aren't insiders:
In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here were strictly those of the person who gave them. Take what you liked and leave the rest. The things you heard were spoken in confidence and should be treated as confidential. Keep them within the walls of this room and the confines of your mind. A few special words to those of you who haven’t been with us long: Whatever your problems, there are those among us who have had them too. If you try to keep an open mind, you will find help. You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened. We aren't perfect. The welcome we give you may not show the warmth we have in our hearts for you. After a while you’ll discover that though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way - the same way we already love you. Talk to each other, reason things out with someone else, but let there be no gossip or criticism of one another. Instead, let the understanding, love and peace of the program grow in you one day at a time. 
If we incorporated parts of the above, would we have a better chance of nipping any grandiose expectations about Christ's Body? Would there be less disappointment with our corporate and individual brokenness? Less incongruity between our words and where we actually live? At the very least, we would have a better chance at honesty about who we really are, and a movement toward more, not less, authenticity. 



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