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Watch your mouth about Billy Graham, son.

One time, my husband Daniel and I got called out for our church (Vintage Fellowship) not having an alter call.

It went like this:

Daniel: Blah blah blah, something about Evangelism today…Billy Graham…(interrupted)

     –Family Member thinks that the next words out of Daniel’s mouth are going to insult Billy Graham who is apparently untouchable in their eyes.–

–Please note: Daniel was not going to trash talk Billy Graham–

Family Member:  Don’t listen to him! They go to a church that doesn’t even invite people to Christ. They just say ‘Go in Peace.

The words “Go in Peace,” were saturated with contempt. Which I thought was pretty amusing since, you know, it’s a QUOTE FROM JESUS.

Quite a few people said it in the Bible, actually.

Thirteen times.

Plus, I always thought that just being at church was an invitation to Christ. Or helping each other. Or comforting each other. Pretty much any of the things Jesus told us to do, I saw/see them as invitations. But I can only speak to my experience.

The complete dismissal of our community of Faith over something like that didn’t offend me immediately. I actually had to stifle my laughter because it was just such an absurd thing to hear. I think I found it so puzzling because I didn’t grow up in a church with an altar call. I didn’t have the faintest clue what Daniel was talking about when came bursting into the living room the next day having come up with the perfect rebuttal in the shower. As one does. Always too late. He said, “For over 1,000 years the Church survived without 8 verses of ‘Just as I Am,’ and it will survive for 1,000 more.” I think I cocked my head to the side like a confused puppy. He had to explain the concept of singing through the hymn verse after verse until someone finally would get up and move forward to the altar. Apparently, this is a big deal. I don’t know about anyone else in the Church of the Brethren or any other Anabaptist groups, but that was not something that happened at Broadwater Church of the Brethren. I remember it there was an altar call every night the summer I was a counselor in training at a 2nd Baptist church camp but I thought it was a camp thing. I had no idea they probably did that every Sunday at their churches at home.

It was very interesting that the next Sunday our friend Jeff Miller spoke on Romans 14 at Vintage. Because that’s how God works.

We need to let go of our need for others to be like us. Within our community there is and should be individuality. My journey is my own but the Grace of God in it is the same as it is for everyone else. We are bound together by God. We all live and walk and serve in different ways.

You want to have an altar call every single Sunday? You go on and have your altar call every Sunday. Good for you, Glen Coco. You GO, Glen Coco! But don’t assume that it’s the only way to ‘invite people to Christ.’

You want to give away half of everything you own? Good for you, Mark Scandrette. You GO, Mark Scandrette. My collection of books and movies will be remaining cozily on my book shelves.

How uninteresting our communities would be if we were all exactly the same and had the same passions.

One thing I love about Fayetteville is the Community. With a capitol “C.” And one of the things that happens in this Community is a little event that used to be called “Churches Outside Together.” Despite the seriously cheesy name, it is a really enjoyable event at Gulley Park where some local churches get together and just hang out. (June 5th this year) BBQ is provided and everyone brings a side dish to share. Cause it ain’t a Southern church function without a potluck, ya’ll. Bands and musical groups from each congregation take turns on stage entertaining with gospel, barbershop quartets, the Beatles, hymns, bagpipes; pretty much whatever the musicians are in the mood for. One year I brought bubbles in a baby pool. So many bubbles.

This year there has been a name change from “Churches Outside Together,” to “Congregations Outside Together,” to include Temple Shalom, which is awesome even if I feel a prime opportunity was missed to come up with a ridiculous Hipster-y name for the event.

There will also be volleyball and kickball tournaments. You’re welcome to come and try to play kickball, but the Vintage Fellowship Bible Thumpers are going to win. Fair warning. Game prep includes a craft night. We’re making t-shirts. This is serious.

The smack talk has already begun on the Facebook page.

I know because I’m the one who started it.

I Googled “Christian Smack talk” but apparently that is not a thing as far as I can tell. So I resorted to a classic.

StillwellAngel You're Gonna Lose

I think you should come and have some fun.

But watch your mouth about Billy Graham.

Or don’t.

Whatever.

One Response to “Chapter 94: Billy Graham is Off Limits – some thoughts on Community”

  1. Cyndee Roberson

    Bravo, Erin ! Very well written and right on the money culturally, too 🙂 I agree with you 100% and having attended both kinds of churches you discussed, I can tell you that true Christians attend both. It sounds like your community is gonna have an awesome event ! Be sure to take the 10 Commandments with you into the game. You know…. Thou shalt not kill 😉

    Reply

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