Born Again Again
Carol Howard Merritt on reclaiming faith
All posts licensed under Creative Commons, some rights reserved by Carol Howard Merritt.
As we wander through this desert, where’s the milk and honey? What is God calling us to do, and who is God calling us to be?
More than half of our small congregations cannot afford a full-time pastor, and many associate pastor positions were cut during the recent economic downturn. These are churches where seminary graduates would normally be heading, so what are the congregations doing instead?
What are today’s youth saying about their faith? How does what they profess compare to our historic creeds? What are they saying about the beliefs of their parents?
I’m in a lot of conversations about why the denominational church isn’t working. But what about the communities that are ministering well? What about new communities?
It’s scary. Sometimes, we Scrappers have to swallow our pride in order to start working with the institution that turned us away. Often, Scrappers develop autonomy and a certain voice that we fear we'll lose if we move into partnership with an established organization. We worry that the structure will steal our ideas and they'll have the money and power to pull them off—without us.
When I combined the popular ideas of God in my mind, I ended up with a strange stew—a lover God who would torture me with fire if I stepped out of line and bless me with diamonds if I obeyed. In other words, my image of God had a serious borderline personality disorder.
Just as I’ve come to appreciate how seasons transform the land, I’ve also become aware of my internal landscape. The two seem bound together in many ways.
After a couple of years of sweating over each syllable, I suddenly needed the words. I hungered to write them. On vacations, my family urged me to take a break and I became cranky. What happened? How did the words begin to grow like wildflowers that I no longer had to coddle?
We have the tendency to define adulthood, and even ourselves, by our employment and our ability to exist independently. But in our difficult economic situation, isn't it time to rely on our rich theology and redefine our notions of self?