One of Billy Graham’s daughters came up with could easily be construed as a surprising answer to one of the oldest faith-related questions: Do you have to go to church to be a Christian?
A new book penned by 61-year-old Anne Graham Lotz suggests the answer is ‘no.’
This may seem downright shocking from a member of the Graham family, but a Newsweek blog outlines how Lotz has been burned and offended by poor behavior in more than one church situation to lead her to the conclusion.
Sadly, her experiences are neither surprising nor uncommon. Story after story which has been written about declining church attendance this year has almost inevitably mentioned snobbery or simply unfriendly elitist behavior as why people have been turned off to church and Christianity in general.
Lotz does make an important distinction between attending worship and faith. Can you have faith supported by your own personal experiences, Bible reading and independent study?
Without a doubt.
The deeper question is how long your belief structure will hold firm or gain maturity if you’re not surrounded by others who share a similar outlook?
With the help of her husband Lotz is again part of a congregation. Her experiences do not invalidate people who still may be searching for a church home or who are trying to support their beliefs on their own.
When my wife and I were in our 20s we moved around for professional reasons quite a bit. Pretty much everywhere we lived we were able to find a church home we were comfortable with. Along the way there were a few stops at places, without naming names, which were about as welcoming as a cold scaly fish.
In every congregation we’ve been in for a measurable length of time there have been dust-ups over the details of how something is run or how someone is or isn’t doing something they’re supposed to be doing. I don’t think that’s poor behavior, that’s the dynamic of organization being run by human beings. How those problems are dealt with can define how congregants collectively, or in Lotz’s case an individual congregant, can create a perception.
I hope Lotz is happy where she is at now. If you’re not, I hope you find someplace where you do feel at home. As Lotz put it herself: “You can really love the Lord, but after a while, if you’re all by yourself, the fire goes cold.”