Taking umbrage to anything Glenn Beck says is its own cottage industry, and wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads there. We do not intend to take that path, exactly, but it will require more than one jump to get to where we want to go. So bear with us.
Last week Beck urged listeners to be wary of churches with a stated commitment to social justice:
I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes.
Matthew Yglesias, Jim Wallis and Nicole Belle, among others, have all responded intelligently to this. We would add only that the kind of church Glenn Beck would seem to support is also a church that greets you at the door by ripping whole swaths of the Bible out and throwing them in the trash. The Hebrew prophets, the Mosaic law of Jubilee, the Sermon on the Mount, this guy named Jesus — they all kind of relate to social justice. Nor are they written in code. If you pick up, say, the book of Luke and start reading, you’re going to find that social justice is pretty high on Jesus’s priority list.
If you feel, like Glenn Beck, that a church shouldn’t preach about or discuss social justice, then by all means you should go somewhere else that suits you. But the place you’re going to is not, it should be stated, church.
What Beck said that really got us thinking was the (curious) idea of going to a church website to scope out the view. This is really not the ideal way to find a church. If we had done this with our current church, Crossroads, it’s very likely we would’ve never set foot there.
Why? Because on paper, Crossroads is everything we dislike about church. It is huge. It is loud. It is a “megachurch.” We don’t sing hymns, there’s no cross in the sanctuary, and it looks nothing like the churches we grew up in. And yet we love it there.
We never found a church to call home in Nashville until our final year there. It was an Episcopal church, heavy on liturgy, with an immensely talented group of musicians who performed (and this we loved) in the balcony behind the congregation. There was not a whiff of performance to it. It was worship.
Neither of us grew up Episcopalian, and there was no allegiance to its doctrine or mission statement. We loved it there because of the spirit in the place. We felt God’s presence in the people there, so we kept coming back week after week. Like most everything in Nashville, it was sad to say goodbye to.
We loved it at Crossroads even though it was a complete one-eighty. We felt God’s presence in the people there, so we kept coming back week after week. It was a huge congregation (now 12,000+), yet we found a small community in the midst of it, first among friends our age and then with the junior high ministry, where we’ve volunteered for two years. If anything, Crossroads has become more of what we dislike about church since we started attending in 2006. But we still love going there.
Social justice is ingrained in its DNA. Some of our junior high students are planning for Unbound, a student-led movement to fight modern day slavery in all its forms. The church partners with the International Justice Mission to focus specifically on freeing children who are sexual slaves in Mumbai, India. Closer to home, the church also partners with other churches and social services around the city like City Gospel Mission, Whiz Kids and Habitat for Humanity.
Do we go to Crossroads because it’s committed to social justice? No. We go there because we believe God is using that community in amazing ways, and we want to be a part of it.
We’re not trying to recruit anyone. We’re just trying to say, Hey, that place that everyone thinks is either a hockey rink or a cult — yeah, that’s our church. We never thought we’d be there either! That’s part of the fun in being a Christian. You end up doing things you thought you’d never do and going places you thought you’d never go. We find freedom in that.
If anyone ever wants to check it out with us, you have an open invitation. (Even you, Glenn.)