When there are four year olds in jail at the border and the Arctic Circle hits 80 degrees, it’s time to find out why exactly the world needs the unending existence of our aging fellowship hall and sparsely-populated sanctuary. If we don’t know the answer, I’m not so sure Millennial church members are going to pull us out of that tailspin.
Of the 25 to 30 students, adults, married couples and whole families I see each week in my practice as a psychotherapist, almost nothing is more difficult to overcome than our collective commitment to the anxious pursuit of happiness at all costs.
The bad news that our world isn’t fine, that life is profoundly unfair, misaligned and wobbly and violently broken should tell us all something important about depression – namely, that depression isn’t wrong to declare life on earth uninhabitable; it’s just terribly misguided about what causes our maladies and exactly what solutions provide their remedy.
A Christianity that brings newness to deadness, even if the newness was something we would never have chosen for ourselves, is the sort of thing that just might blow the doors off the universe if we’ll let it. At the least, I know this kind of Christianity manages to empty my tomb year after year after year.
My sisters and brothers in the Methodist tradition (and elsewhere), if you do have to leave your denominational home, I hope that you keep your eyes and ears open for a God you or your tradition can’t hold on to: a God at the bottom of the slippery slope, in a field Rumi famously described as one beyond right doing and wrong doing.
One of the occupational hazards of getting paid to pray is that a minister’s clear sense of calling, those moments of clarity and lucidity about one’s life trajectory, can get commodified into a discussion about one’s fitness for a particular ministerial position.
As both a dad and a youth pastor (who moonlights as a therapist), I encourage you to stop “investing” in your children. It’s killing them, and as your general health care practitioner can attest, it’s not doing your blood pressure any favors either.
Autonomy breeds resiliency in kids and in their individual expressions of Christianity, especially when these kids are rooted in congregations brimming over with institutional warmth and opportunities for non-parental intergenerational relationships.
To commune together, even when there’s good reason for withdrawn civility and hostile incivility, seems a miraculously unlikely experience. Which is probably why the Church has spent the majority of its life protecting the metaphor of Communion instead of practicing its meaning.