Negativity serves as a bonding agent. People gather together and find commonality in griping and complaining. The stickiness factor is low; the relationships tend to be like painter's tape that is temporary and disposable.
There are some things that cannot be programmed into a worship gathering. In fact, if it is programmed, it comes off like a scene right out of "Saved." Inauthentic and farcical. I walked into the worship space late on Sunday because I was doing sign-in for the children's ministry. It was immediately apparent that I had missed something. Something had transpired in those few minutes that brought about a real connection to God and to each other. The Spirit was present in the room in a very tangible way that leaves you feeling stripped and comforted simultaneously.
I spent my Saturday night at an art show at a tattoo parlor. An unusual venue but then it was not your typical art show crowd either. The work of one of the artists really caught my eye. Not in an "I want to take this beautiful work home and gaze upon its magnificence" kind of way. More like "wow, this work is very dark and incredibly honest." It was shocking, haunting even, but it made me think. There was one particular piece that my mind kept going back to again and again. The artist's pain and brokenness was very evident. I think most of us hide our pain and brokenness and are ashamed to admit it exists let alone share the specifics. This is one of my favorite things about art and literature. The courage of an artist or writer to put it out there and let people feel it, digest it, and talk about it. I believe I will meet this artist as a result of our upcoming art show, and I can't wait to talk to her about her work and thank her for her honesty. It's made me think about where I need to more honest in my own life.
Eugene Cho wrote a great post about people leaving church. Not great because people are leaving but because he's honest. He talks about the reality we all face - it hurts. A church is about people and relationships. When a member of the family walks out the door, it hurts. And it doesn't just hurt the pastor. It leaves a trail of heartache amongst the body. The fact that it hurts is a sign that we are doing some things right in the church. The only thing worse than the pain caused by someone leaving the church would be someone leaving and feeling nothing at all.