WARNING: If you believe yourself to be a religious person or are a church-goer and/or have high blood pressure—please, for your own mental health—stop reading. The following words may be detrimental to your view of what you're doing and, consequently, your spiritual status quo.
I just realized it the other day. It's official. I've become AN ACCLEIST. That's right. An accleist. (But, before you run to look the word up in a dictionary, you won't find it there. I'll need to help you out.) In my circle of work, I run into a lot of ATHEISTS—people who say they don't believe that there is a God. Well, here's how the word 'ATHEISM' breaks down:
'a'—no /// 'theo'—God /// 'ism'—distinctive belief, system of thought, theory.
So atheism is the distinctive belief that there is no God.
Now, as I said at the outset, I realized that I have adopted an ACCLEISTIC view of things. Like before, the 'a' part of the word means no. But the last half of the word is a modification of another word—ecclesiology. Ecclesiology is the formation of a theology about the church. So, if you are ecclesiological, it means you have some kind of thoughtful view of what the "CHURCH" is and how it ought to be. That being the case, almost everybody is ecclesiological. On a larger scale, for every church you drive past, you have a different ecclesiology.
So, yeah, back to my discovery. I've become a-ecclesiological: ACCLEISTIC. I've given up on "church." Now, if you pay close attention to the details, you're aware that I am a pastor…of a CHURCH. It's just after having grown up in church, grown up in a culture with every possible variation on church—the big box church up the street that can make the best and greatest number of people with McNugget-level-quality spirituality possible, the tiny little congregation out on a street I've never heard of, the church made up of people who all came from the other church just down the street, the church that shouts and dances when the music cranks up, the church whose congregation thinks it's sacrilegious to crack smiles inside the 4-walls of a church building (or emote in any way about God, for that matter), the church who thinks they hold the moral high ground, the church who thinks they own the secret password to the vault holding God, or the church who puts out a vibe that they're the only church there is—ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
I realized the other day that I am done with that stuff. I am an accleist now. No more views of "church." As a pastor of a community of spiritually-curious people here at Grace Fellowship, I am committing to stop trying to build the "church" box—and signing on to simply follow my Savior Jesus and the truth expressed in the Word of God. Jesus once told a classically-confused religious guy, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE" (John 14:6). Jesus is my Way to discover the truth about God and the life He desires for me. That's Who and what spirituality and Christianity should be built around.
So, all of you accleists, interested in trying something fresh and honest? We're meeting in a "church" building with the word "church" as the suffix to the 'Grace Fellowship CHURCH' that's painted on the sign, but we're trying to do something different than squeeze ourselves into another itsy-bitsy box.