My newsfeed is flooded this week with World Cup soccer and the CBF General Assembly currently taking place in Atlanta. I am probably rendering myself un-American by saying it, but I could care less about the World Cup. And the last time I went to the General Assembly in Atlanta I remember having a conversation with hubs about the beginning of the end of our involvement in Baptist denominational life. He was already feeling pushed out–for several very good reasons. I was still looking to hang in there but even that was short-lived. (My last General Assembly was in Charlotte, in which I basically found the experience frustrating and irrelevant.)
So while we were in the ol’ ATL, we stayed with friends and drove into the city for any of the CBF events we were going to or expected to attend. Most of our week was spent with friends who have very little to do with church–let alone Baptist life. Most of it was spent in a cigar bar, drinking beer and playing pool, watching the Miami Heat win the NBA Finals, and catching up with people who are important to us. And those things were more life-giving and memorable than any workshop I attended that week.
As we have moved away from denominational life, the trend has continued. We find that we spend most of our time gathered with people who could care less about denominational ties, usually with wine or beer involved, and incredible conversation that translate into holy moments. The people range in ages, backgrounds and life experiences. The conversations are open and honest and contain more questions than answers. There is a stronger sense of identity–or at least the development of an identity as an individual created by God and containing a piece of the essence of God. Those things continue to be more life giving than my previous experience with the annual CBF meetings.
Of course, some day I may again find myself participating in Baptist life in some capacity. It certainly provided me with a solid foundation from which I have developed and grown in incredible ways, and I am thankful for it. But it is not the sole basis for my thinking or beliefs. Much of what I think and believe has been shaped by my own experiences of life on this earth as well as the relationships I have with so many different kinds of people. And for now, my church experience is a really good fit. It happens to fall outside of denominational lines with true autonomy and the freedom to make decisions about how best to build relationships that change things locally and globally. And it’s a good thing.
So while people are over there watching soccer or going to workshops in Atlanta (or even heading to Wild Goose this week–and I’m jealous of that crowd), I’m over here working and waiting for the next miracle to enter into my world. And I’m good with it.