I have imagined this place many times. I’ve named it Laid Back Church. It’s motto is “No Junk. No Judgment. Just Jesus.” I hope to one day be part of a church like this. It’s a place where everyone–everyone–is invited to be.
I’ve imagined what it would be like to offer sermons in a church that felt like home–like a real home where people come to be in a sanctuary. It’s a place that’s loving, caring, welcoming, peaceful, and unpretentious. It’s a place where people know when they enter the space that they are in a different realm–some place holier than what they stepped out of and some place that reveres the sacred and gives each person a sense that abundant grace is theirs if they want it.
Laid Back is a place to experience beauty and the wildness and mystery of nature. I’ve imagined it near the ocean. It’s a place where sunshine and warmth are plentiful. It’s a place that would also take delight in a rain shower, feel appropriately in awe of a thunderstorm, and it would trust in the power of the Spirit when the bad storms came at it with a force that would shake it to the foundation. I’ve imagined this church to be woven into the fabric of the place in which it lives.
It’s a place where I might wear a robe and stole on some days and shorts and a t-shirt on other days. It’s a place where people walking along the beach can stop for shelter from the hot sun and be met with a cool cup of water. It’s a place where holy water and candles are offered for those who feel the need to pray or receive a blessing. The elements of communion are offered daily to anyone who wants or needs them. Sunscreen and aloe are on hand if needed. Directions on where to buy beer or bait and the best places and times to fish are found here. A listening ear, a tender heart, a shoulder to cry, and soft pillows where weary souls can rest are also available.
Laid Back is not restricted to unyielding schedules and programs that wear people out with details, minutia, and tedium. And, it’s not the kind of place that lends itself to chaos or an attitude of “whatever.”
Laid Back is for folks who have been to church, left church, hated church, or been hurt by church. It’s okay to come here with all your messiness and with whatever is broken. It’s okay to have questions and doubts. You are met where you are and embraced simply because you are a beloved creation of God.
This place exists to worship God, to be a place of learning, and to serve others. It’s a place of laughter and joy: a place for friendships to be made and where hugs and happy tears are plentiful. It’s a place where people sing from their hearts and make joyful noises that God delights in hearing, but perfect pitch is not required.
It is quiet. It is peaceful. It is restful. It is a sanctuary for the body and soul.
This 50-something, divorced, female minister has a dream of being part of Laid Back someday. I don’t know if such a place can ever exist except in my mind and heart but, perhaps that’s enough for now. If that’s the direction in which God takes me then I will gladly go there. I will go with chalice and bread in hand, knowing there will be those who need that cup of salvation and that bread of life as much as I do.