This is another in my series related to Rosaria Butterfield’s book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. The topic relates to the Church (more universal than the specific local church even though she talked a lot about a specific local church and a specific denomination).
The full title should read: Is the church ready for you even if you are different, really different?
One term she mentioned often was the people who brought Christ to her via hospitality, brought the Church to her. My understanding of that term, that you can read more about in the interviews on her website or her book included:
- showing her the gospel
- answering her questions about GOD via His Word
- answering her questions she was having as she read the Bible
- observing the various people that were in and out of the pastor’s home over the two year period she knew him and his wife before she started attending the church.
This church may have been ready for Rosaria, but she is certain she wasn’t ready for church! Her wise mentors didn’t attempt to bring her to church early on either. As she learned more and more and her heart was changed, the evidence that she was a believer was showing in her attitudes, desires and actions. (You need to read the book to follow that journey.)
Do we understand and appreciate the difficulty many have when they start attending our churches?
The discussion had happened regarding what the purpose of worship was and why it was important for her Christian growth. She was aware that many in the church were praying for her. In fact, she became what she called, a “church stalker.” She would drive to the church and watch the people get out of their cars and go in as she sat in her car with bumper stickers that had very different messages than the pro-life, conservative and often, republican ones on the cars in the church parking lot.
She watched these large, mostly homeschooled families get out of their vans and walk into church dressed very conservatively while she sat in her car with her butch haircut and attire. Her appearance was one that screamed “alternate lifestyle” and she was not anxious to walk into this scary place. Attending church was not an easy journey for her. There is no question that she stood out as different in that setting.
At some point, she realized this was the next step GOD was prodding her to take. So one Sunday morning, she left the bed of her lesbian lover and went to church to worship GOD. The people were very gracious. Of course, she already knew the pastor and his wife…and a few of the members had crossed paths at the pastor’s home or at work.
Her church became a community of growth and support as she grew in Christ…and worshipped.
This began a new level of her walk with GOD in the community of the Church. Women helped her learn what it meant to be a godly woman according to the Bible as she asked for help. At times of need, she asked for help from the elders as the details of the train wreck of her conversion began to unfold. This was where the Church, wherever it was located, became a haven of worship, encouragement, growth, and wisdom from the people of GOD that were placed around her. They even joined with the homosexual community as both groups cared for a student of hers who almost succeeded in her suicide attempt. Can you imagine?
She was taught well by these believers. It was what she needed both for that time and for the years ahead. It makes us stop to examine what we think we need in a church compared with what Scripture tells us we need. Maybe if we had less bells and whistles, the Church in the U.S. would be more effective.
I was challenged by reading her story, realizing that we don’t have many coming to Christ from radical lifestyles, even from apparently ordinary lifestyles! We are focusing on unimportant things and not focusing on what is important.I was challenged by reading her story, realizing that we don't have many coming to Christ from radical lifestyles... Click To Tweet
We need to remember why GOD has placed us where we are
There are too many people lost around us…without Jesus. They are like Rosaria or have some similarities. If they walked into our churches, many of us wouldn’t know what to do…or we would fall over! We wouldn’t even know how to have a simple conversation with her.
But the truth is, Rosarias won’t be walking into our churches very often. They’ll see our bumper stickers and walk off. We need to get to know them in person, in our homes, often discipling them long before they walk into our churches. We need to be familiar with our faith and how to teach it to others.
The pastor who mentored Rosaria was wise enough to know Rosaria wasn’t ready for church and in many ways, they weren’t ready for her, when they first met. He didn’t invite her to church then. He knew she would run the other way! So did she! So he brought the church to her in the form of Jesus and His Word…and a developing friendship!
When she was ready for the church, GOD let her know it was time.He didn't invite her to church then, but he brought the church to her... Click To Tweet
What about the Christians who are disillusioned?
For those of you who have been hurt by people in a church and want to walk away, you are leaving the only place for help. The Church is huge! It is larger and grander than any one denomination or non-denomination. Open your eyes, ask GOD to show you where there is a place that you need to go where you can learn how to worship again, where you can find community…true community. It may take awhile to find it.
Take off the strings. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, as long as it is x denomination or has y view of such and such, I’m not going there. Maybe GOD wants you to grow in a different place than where you have been. Obviously, you will need to grow in a place that highly honors GOD’s Word and believes Jesus is GOD (the third person of the trinity), but ask GOD to open your eyes to that place. You might not be there the rest of your life. But you need to be there for a time to grow and heal. He will show you and protect you. Trust Him. Ask Him to make it clear. He will if you are serious about obeying Him.
Ah, this speaks to me, Martha. All too often I forget that I need to bring the church to others and not just sit around waiting for ‘others’ to show up.
thanks anita. i round rosaria’s book very helpful and pushy in a good way. we won’t agree on every single issue, but she is pushing me to obey GOD in places that are basic that i have let go.
the book is about so much more than a lesbian who becomes a christian! it is much more about someone coming to Christ whose life completely gets turned upside down! but in ways that are sometimes different than we might expect!
“We need to get to know them in person, in our homes, often discipling them long before they walk into our churches.” This is something we all need to learn to practice. Her story sounds very powerful! Blessings to you, Martha!
it is amazing in many ways, but the story of the way she came to Christ was rather quiet in others gayl. sitting around a dinner table, asking questions, having honest discourse and non-defensive hosts:) who knew? i found her views of people before and after coming to christ have not changed a lot in terms of liking honest people, not appreciating people who toss out bibles verses that end sentences (as she described). it gave me an interesting view i hadn’t tho’t of.
I keep hearing about this book but it hasn’t found its’ way into my hands yet! I love this post and I kept reflecting on how Jesus said to go and make disciples… not converts! We must be willing to love and extend grace and truth and joy without pressuring people into changing or cleaning up (first) or coming to church. Instead, we need to -as you said – bring church to them! WE are the church… it’s not a building – it is us… a body… a family… and we do well to remember that everyone is welcome and Jesus is passionately in love with each of them… as much as He is with ‘us’!
it is a great book on many levels karrilee:) if you go to her webpage that i linked to and scroll down a bit, you will come to quite a few interviews with her as well as question/ answer sessions. of course, some are better than others, but you will learn a lot of her from them:)
I love this book! I am always challenged by Rosaria’s strong voice and bracing call for the church to step up and be what God intends.
Thanks for this great review!
she really pushes me for sure, michelle! i don’t think she’ll ever turn me into a psalm singer only, but she certainly has pushed my limits in every area. hearing her speak is even better than reading her b/c her joy comes through as she laughs and has funny asides:) i think i would love meeting her in person:) the interviews were delightful!