Questions from the backseat: Where is the church going?

John Schnobrich,

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we—”

Children ask this question in the backseat of the car at mile 2. We just left the house, the garage and the neighborhood is barely in our rearview. We haven’t gone over a single bridge or overpass, or railroad track and they are already over it and have managed to eat all the good snacks.

Not five minutes in and they have gotten under our skin. And we are now questioning the meaning of our lives, the purpose of this drive and if it is even worth it. “Now, where was I going?”

If they don’t cut it out, we are going to turn this car around. Before we have a complete and full meltdown, Jesus, take the wheel.

“Are we there yet?” But the question in this present moment is, “Do we want to go there?”

Do we want to know what happens in the end? Do we want to know where we will end up if we keep going in this direction?

And by this direction, I mean in circles. Despite getting into baptismal waters, we rinse and repeat the same old habits of hatred, half- baked patriarchy and half- priced misogyny, hand me down divisions and theologize this never- ending battle of the sexes, which feeds the ego and our appetite for power.

We trust no one—not even ourselves. Because everyone is out to get us, which gives us all anxiety and a nervous tick.

Look at the clock; nothing has changed. It’s still more of the same old, same old. Some people don’t want to change, and they get mad at those who do. But why does breaking me fix you? Why does a broken me serve you so well?

I must hurry along because T. S. Eliot is right, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” But some of us are cracking up, breaking down under the pressure, weighted down by the pressure of a society that lifts some up and keeps others down.

And we are not going to keep quiet about it. We’re not going to bend our backs for this pyramid scheme. We are not just going to grin and bear it. We’re not going to smile when you say, “American dream.”

We are looking at our baptism certificate, the words of Paul to the Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” and asking Jesus, “Why aren’t we there yet” (Galatians 3.28)?

Why do we keep coming to these segregated church buildings? These polarizing worship services of Caesar, the latest king? Why are we complicit with the American empire and its capitalist systems? Why do most churches only call male clergy? Why does it feel like Jesus has left the building?

Still, some fight and fire pastors to keep this kind of church. Don’t touch a thing; it is just like we want it. Just show up and say what we pay you to, pastor. And for members and visitors, just show up and sing.

And my look at the time! Look at how it flies and flies right back in our faces. Because we won’t face history and our past mistakes. Robert’s Rules doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t take the pain away—though the motion carries.

It all comes back to us. It all comes back to haunt us, which is why we are so afraid of the Holy Ghost. That Divine Spirit has us spooked. Because it keeps filling people with the good news—that “who Jesus sets free is free indeed” (John 8.36). Expect these keys to turn on you.

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has caused people to reconsider who they are really, what they cannot live without and what works well for them. Likewise, the church is having its own identity crisis and crisis of faith as persons leave to discern and discover what Jesus would do now.

Because the church hasn’t changed and won’t repent of its practice of colonial Christianity and its belief in white supremacy, its toxic patriarchy or repent of the suffering it has caused around the world.

Because the church won’t take questions during Sunday school or Bible study about evolution, heaven and hell, race and its progeny or human sexuality.

So, it now seems that the church needs a “come to Jesus meeting.” Because we have been following Jesus but are still no closer to his vision of a ‘kin- dom’ coming.

You’ll find me in the backseat (because women are terrible drivers, right?) asking, “Why aren’t we there yet?”

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Seeking to lead words and people to their highest and most authentic expression, I am the principal architect of a race/less world.

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