What I needed, and continue to need, is a safe place to work out my answers. A place that would allow me and my faith to have these sort of questions and, more importantly, my doubts. You see the point of my faith isn’t Christianity; it’s knowing, following, and becoming more like Christ. Nor is the point to have unwavering faith. More often than not, our belief is mixed with our unbelief and not the perfect, unquestioning thing some people have made it out to be.

One of the things about being a writer is that it has helped developed an appreciation of the importance of being a story-teller. The artist’s ability to capture people’s imagination using image before word. Spiritual discussion can come from art, since art pursues and thus reveals truth. It’s about how we perceive and create reality, versus our logic-engineered reality. It’s about asking a different set of questions from a different social and historical context. It’s about developing a parallel culture, one where you can learn to live the truth and live your lives differently.

We are looking for a story to define us, a community to belong to, be it punk (the anarchist story), militia (the story of ”patriotism”), gang (the story of street families). When institutions fail to do what the were created to do, be what they were supposed to be about, other places–not often looking like one expects–will spring up to do their job. People are going elsewhere to fill their spiritual needs. Churches can’t just “survive” – mere survival turns churches into museums and us into curators. Though sometimes withdrawal brings renewal, the church has to be a part of the culture and we have to make church a safe place for people to work out their spiritual questions.

Such spiritual safe havens involve first being a community, allowing people to have a sense of belonging before believing.

Unfortunately, a lot of historic church practices fall by the wayside along the way. So when I say that we are non-denominational, it points more to us drawing on all church traditions. So when people ask me what kind of church The Dwelling Place is, I say that we are missional and monastic. For one thing, too often churches emphasize their differences, drawing lines in the sand over doctrine. By monastic, we mean being a community of practice. We want what we’re about to revolve around what we do, how we live out our faith (to know it then do it).

I know it sounds basic, like what every church should be and is about. Yet, it continues to stun me how so many people can sit under good pastors for years, getting filled with all sorts of head knowledge, yet can’t even manage to figure out how to love their spouse. As a church, we must not be doing something right, if the message we preach can’t impact people’s lives. And I think that goes a long way in explaining why Christianity has lost its place of privilege and influence in our culture. Maybe it is in how we pass on and practice what we know.

Being more naturally a people of grace and love takes training. Spiritual formation that focuses on one thing, God, to develop a faith that is holistic, affecting all parts of our lives. To be so devoted to God, so saturated in His presence, that we orient all aspects of our lives, our work, our play, our talk, such that they revolve around Him.

As a community, we gather to know God better and live life together.