I met with a former student today and we caught up on life. Over the years I have gained a deep appreciation for all the streams of Christianity that have come through the centuries, so when I see people exploring streams other than the one they grew up in, I’m interested.
He has reached a point in his life where his walk with Christ has led him from an Assemblies of God upbringing to finding “home” in the Catholic church. He and his wife are in the process of entering the Catholic church. We had a fascinating conversation about his journey. I was so encouraged by his thoughtfulness in the matter.
More and more I have met former students and heard of others who have left the Assemblies of God after college to find “home” in more liturgical confessions. I know of those who have gone to Eastern Orthodox as well.
Meanwhile, here I am in the Assemblies of God. I do not dismiss the decisions of others. I carry deep admiration for them. What I am left pondering is this: Are we, in the Assemblies of God, and in many evangelical movements, suffering from a brain drain? When I watch people contemplate their faith and really THINK about it… many are making a move toward the more ancient traditions.
Now, either I’m not “thinking” clearly enough, or something else may be going on. One thing I DO wish for is more contemplation in my denomination. Maybe we put such a bad spin on contemplative thought, or intellectual pursuits, we just chase some people off. What I would wish for is people to think, embrace the ancient traditions of the Church, and find they can actually stay in Assemblies of God, or other evangelical streams, as well. It doesn’t ALWAYS mean a move… or does it?
I have found that my meanderings through the streams of ancient faith have not endangered my place in the Assemblies of God. Of course, they may not even care. I keep sending them my “dues,” so why bother me? Yet, I have found I can freely share my explorations in liturgy with District leaders and not be shot down. Of course, they could secretly wonder what in the world this guy is doing… but they don’t give me any grief about it.
At any rate, what I appreciate from my friend and others is their processing. They have THOUGHT about their place in the Church. They have sought for “home.” It’s one reason I celebrate the wide variety of the Church. There is a place for “home” for believers. I just wish more would see that there are places in the evangelical/Pentecostal stream (like my church) that have a place for contemplation and thought. It can be “home” as well.