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BY THE REV. DAVID MERRITT |

In recent years I’ve become accustomed to being on the outside looking in. I’ve never been exactly an insider, but it seems less likely as I am now officially retired. So, in my thinking I have come to see the differences between Church and churchland. When I think of Church, I think of the Universal Church; Apostles, Creeds, and Leaders like Jan Hus. When I think of churchland, I think of the things that make less of a difference in The Way, that Christ lived out his ministry.

Churchland thinking would be more about the shade of paint in the hallway, the time spent on detailed notes of endless meetings, the way in which people either distance themselves from committees or make pointless demands for programs that don’t “hold water” for the 21st century. As a life-long church person, I am deeply aware that I am part of the problem as well as part of the solution. I am rooted in history, mine and the church’s as well. But I do think…mostly on the way to some meeting…that Church requires a more dynamic engagement in the “weightier matters” that Jesus spoke over 2,000 years ago.

So, what can we say about the phrase “churchland” or Church? In a way, I guess I don’t have any real words but maybe feelings or emotions to share at this juncture. So… here it goes. Abandoning churchland probably is a game breaker for many people. So, if I don’t do this or that, I will lose all my identity….one may say. Thinking about churchland and Church is being willing to feel uncomfortable at times, even with familiar things. Churchland and being Church is perhaps asking difficult questions of one’s self…and of one’s choices in the budget, the use of facilities, and even what it means be on holy ground.

Living in Church and churchland is finding appropriate balance but willing to lean into the curves, face roadblocks, and even attempt U Turns. I’ve come to expect the journey is a pilgrimage of sorts, but as a student of history, the journey is never completely planned but having the courage to be open, honest and willing whatever the outcome.

In many ways, churchland is what we who are over sixty years of age must confess is our legacy and perhaps our greatest need to address for future generations.


About the Author

Photo courtesy of Mike Riess.

The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grandkids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain, but prefers raindrops anyway.


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