I’m not sure why, but I’ve been hearing the phrase “organized religion” a lot lately and it’s never a compliment.
It’s typically said by people who have left the church they grew up in or who have never been a part of a church. It is usually preceded by the words: “I don’t need” or “I’m not falling for.”
The idea is that spirituality is great; there’s no problem with that. It is just that one can easily find that on one’s own. You don’t need church or “organized religion” for that. In fact, “organized religion” gets in the way.
Part of me—the part that is immersed in “organized religion”—finds this incredibly naive and disappointing. Another part of me—the part that wants to find a point of connection—understands where this is coming from.
Maybe you feel this way about the church: It is good and all, especially around the holidays, but it isn’t something you feel you need in your life in order to find God or your own sense of spirituality. More than that, with all of its rules, scandals, and judgments the church is so far removed from what you believe God is about and what this world needs that you’ll pass, thank you very much.
And I get that. Christianity and the church have been vehicles for all sorts of discrimination and violence throughout history. Why would you want to be a part of that?
Well, the reason is because the opposite is also true: Christianity and the church have been vehicles for all sorts of social progress and peacemaking. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of that?
Moreover, “organized religion” is anything but a monolith. Sure, there are churches (a lot of them) that are entrenched in the past and seem to somehow delight in judging people. But there are also a lot of churches where that is not the case; churches like ours where we strive to craft a community of faith that celebrates diversity and encourages a theology that welcomes questioning and doubt.
Can you find God on your own? Sure you can. It is just a lot harder to do and more limiting because without interaction with others who have different faith journeys and without clergy encouragement to consider and reconsider your own beliefs and go deeper, the God you find will be very narrow indeed.
“Organized religion” is not perfect by any means but I hate when our church is lumped in with very good reasons to avoid it. FCC stands for inclusion, openness, non-judgementalism, and finding your own way in the context of Christian community.
In fact, I’m betting that even those who rail against “organized religion” would find a home here.
See you in church,