Twenty-one Reasons Not to Give Up on My Church
I’ve read plenty of Internet stories lately that explain why fewer and fewer people--including one-time Evangelicals--go to church. In response, I offer a few reasons why you ought to consider going to (liberal!) Lawrence Park Community Church (LPCC) before you give up on religion altogether.
- Yes, we think there is a gay agenda, and we’re for it. Gay—or trans, or bi, or whatever—all sexual orientations are definitely welcome at our shop.
- Not married? Living together? Nice. Welcome.
- Evolution is a theory like gravity is a theory. Get over it.
- Neither Eve nor Adam committed an original sin. And I am not guilty or condemned before God on account of any such mythic sin. This is as theologically dense as I’m going to get in this post.
- Most LPCC members believe in God. But all members of LPCC are deeply impressed by Jesus' life and example. We don’t know how God and Jesus are related, exactly. We do enjoy wondering about that question, however.
- We don’t play any of that faux rock music known as Christian Contemporary Music. We do traditional church music with organ, piano, and an incredible choir. We mix in jazz, real rock and roll, folk, and even country and western occasionally. (Okay, country and western just once).
- A lot of people at LPCC are pretty well-to-do. I don’t criticize them for being capitalists and then go ask them for money when we need it. Our well-to-do members, after all, are trying to figure out how to be authentically Christian just like everyone else. They merely have their own unique challenges. No need to scapegoat them for that.
- A lot of people at LPCC are barely getting by from paycheque to paycheque. Life in Toronto is expensive. We don't hound such people about tithing or anything like that. We do encourage everyone to be generous with both time and resources when they can afford it.
- Sermons are short. Twenty minutes max. You’re in at 10:30 and out by 11:30—maybe 11:35. Why? Because I never met anyone at the door, after church, who said, “I wish you had gone on longer." Still, lots of people come before 10:30, and stay long after 11:30. The coffee is good and the company is even better.
- We don’t insist that members attend every Sunday. We have a saying at LPCC that goes like this: “We’re glad to see you when you come. We bless you when you’re away.”
- A lot of my preaching is about inspiring people to love their neighbours, doing social justice, and imitating Jesus. I’d love to see everyone plant a bit of Shalom whatever they do, wherever they go. At the same time, I try not to guilt members into it.
- We’re curious about theology, and like to hear occasional sermons that explore the great themes of Christianity. We don’t shove doctrine down anyone’s throat. Theology should be fun, like a playground.
- We think the Bible is pretty neat. The Bible also makes us, at turns, angry, incredulous, happy, and confused.
- Not all sermons are from or about the Bible. We’ve explored God’s Trombones, Les Miz, and The Lion King via both music and sermon series. The choir will be singing the texts, too!
- Last Halloween about half the congregation came to church wearing costumes. The sermon was about death. I won't even get started on the Sunday we decorated the sanctuary as Oz, and I wore red slippers. Aunt Em's potluck, after, was delicious.
- Hockey hero and Evangelical Paul Henderson, who most certainly doesn’t agree with most of what passes for theology in our church, has preached here. So did Maria Toorpakai, a world-class Muslim athlete. Both preached during a four-week series on Sports and Spirituality.
- Our motto is “United, Unlimited, Unorthodox.” We’re not really sure what “unlimited” is supposed to mean, anymore, but we’re having too much fun to worry much about changing our motto. Ambiguity can be good.
- We sponsor a Pub Theology night, Wednesdays at 8:30, at the Duke of Kent pub. Young professionals and students talk about the meaning of life. We don’t aim to make converts—just friends.
- The Youth Group is studying the Spirituality of Super Heroes this semester. They go on retreats. Lots of pizza and fun.
- We support community causes with generous gifts and volunteer hours: Out of the Cold, New Circles, and Camp Lake Scugog come to mind. We encourage people to give time and money to other causes than just church.
- We had a three-day art show this past year that included a worship interview with three of our young artists.
All this, and I’ve only just started. If you’re wondering about what you believe, if you want to be with other people similarly curious, if you admire the example of Jesus, if you want community, if you want great music, if you want people trying hard to be honest and good rather than hypocrites, if you want to go to a cool church, you ought to check out Lawrence Park Community Church, a United Church of Canada congregation that meets at 10:30 am on Sundays at 2180 Bayview Ave. in Toronto.