Over the last 5 years I would have to say that my spiritual journey has been anything but normal. I have and will always consider myself to be a deeply spiritual person, who has been completely changed by the gospel of Christ. However, over the years as my spirituality has grown and taken form, it scarcely represents that from my childhood. I was brought up in a charismatic, prophesying and tongue speaking church and now attend a liturgical, traditional Catholic church, which I have come to deeply respect. Both have their merits and have provided for experiences in my spiritual journey which have brought me to be the man I am today. Although I have taken serious issues with the church as an institution, I will never turn my back on it as an ideology, because at its foundation, it is the very lifeline of our faith. However, I believe it has meshed with our capitalistic culture on such a deep level, that it now seldom resembles the very core that we as people need. I have come to realize that life and our spiritual journey are about development and growth. Life will stretch us and pull us and in those moments, that is when we need the love and support of a community of believers. With what God has given us in our finances, gifts and social networks, we are to give back and to pour into others, especially in their times of need. That is what Jesus asked us to do, to give; to give until it hurts. When I was just 6 years old I remember listening to an old folk artist named Don Francisco who sang a song called the Steeple Song, which is such a statement on church, and this was 20 years ago. Here are the lyrics to his song. They summarize my thoughts and feelings, better than I could have ever put it.

I donít care how many buses you own, or the size of your sanctuary.
It doesnít matter how steep your steeple is if it is sitting on a cemetery.
I donít care if you have paved your parking lot or put pads upon your Pughís,
What good is a picture perfect stage if you are missing all the cues?

I donít care if your pastor is super powered and your program is always new.
What you need is love and truth and men will come to you.
It doesnít matter if you know the Bible if its all just in your head.
The thing I need to ask you, is have you done the things I have said.

Do you love your wife? For her and for your children, are you laying down your life? What about the others? Are you living as a servant to your sisters and your brothers?
Do you make the poor man beg you for a bowl? Do the widow and the orphan cry alone?

I donít care if you pray for miracles. I donít care if you speak with tongues.
I donít care if you said you love me in every song you have sung.
It doesnít matter that your sacrifice of praise is loud enough to raise the dead.
The thing I need to ask you is have you done the things I have said.

Do you love your wife? With all you got inside of you are you laying down your life? What about the others? Are you living as a servant to your sisters and your brothers?
Do you make the poor man beg you for a bowl? Do the widow and the orphan cry alone?

Lord, when were you a prisoner and we didnít come to you?
When is it that we saw you sick and we didnít follow through?
Every time you turned your head and pretended not to see,
When you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.

My criticisms towards the church are not meant to encapsulate all Christians or all churches, but rather to generalize the way that church is done and the structure of the institution as a whole. There are so many people who attend church to find a community that cares for and supports them. They so desperately want to get out of their lonely journey which has gotten them nowhere. Many times I have found churches to be so busy organizing their programs, they often miss the very essence of what they intend to do; to care for people. So often it feels like churches are run like a business. I have heard some refer to it as the ABCís of church. The business needs a big attendance so that it can get bigger buildings and have more cash. This is not always the case, but many high end churches now days have shifted their focus to be more ďseeker friendlyĒ in their approach and in turn end up spending thousands and thousands of dollars on the many programs they have, which are sometimes not much more than a commercial advertisement of promotion.

The last 3 months has shown me so much about church. I have been able to watch two different communities which has highlighted and exacerbated my opinions even more. Here in Kelowna I have found myself a part of an amazing community of believers. Our small community spends a great deal of time with each other and is open and accepting to others. The element of support that most of feel enable us to experience our faith on such a deeper level. I can think of so many times when we have stayed up late talking about Christ in our lives, fellowshipping and supporting each other. It has been amazing to go and serve with each other within the community. I have learned a lot about my faith throughout it and I know that the lives of others have been forever changed as well. All this to say I believe in a community of believers, but when it becomes institutionalized and organized as a business, we slowly lose the very essence of what we started out as. I believe churches as an institution need to do a bit of deconstructing and start reconstruction by putting relationships and serving others as their primary goal. There is no need to worry about buildings and cash; when we start serving others, lives will be impacted and is that not what we were called do to? Personal development, it requires a community. I think the reason many churches have shied away from this is because it is probably one of the most difficult commitments to make; but it is one that we have to if we want to engage in relationships, like we have been called to do. We have to engage in relationships and pour out opening up our lives to others. In such a strong way this has pulled on my heart, calling me to find more peace in the place God has brought me into in the last 3 months; a place of having peace with living a life that is ready for interruptions.