Matt, Toby & I (Joey Svendsen) spent last week traveling to three southern cities for some hang-out time in living rooms that were packed with folks of all ages, backgrounds, and faiths. People came in, most of them mixed with excitement and nervousness, to be in close-knit quarters amongst strangers, along with the possibility of having to talk in front them. Each person knew of the existing common ground they shared with the rest: they were all fond of Matt and Toby’s music and would risk feeling awkward in order to experience a living room show. They left realizing and embracing a more common ground amongst their fellow “living room show mates.” All of them spoke of experiencing pain pretty regularly, some to the point of wanting to die. All are wanting more out of life; all of them need community.
How do we know these things about our new friends? We asked them questions point blank. Personal questions.
We shared as well. Personal things. Things that weren’t too fun to admit. It sucks being honest, especially when you care so much about your image.
One guy, caring nothing about Jesus, gave us major props and was tickled to death about the intimate and slightly bizarre environment that was initiated amongst strangers in mere minutes. But, why is this bizzare? My question is, why shouldn’t this be the norm?
Making this type of environment normal is exactly what Bad Christian is setting out to do.
This is what we did at the beginning of each night:
1. We let the peeps know about a our goal: we want to change the world.
2. We told them what we believe: we personally believe in the bible and the work Jesus can do in all of our lives. Simultaneously, we don’t see ourselves as better than anyone, nor as having all the answers.
3. We tell them what we love: we love them, the church in general, and our local churches more specifically.
4. We tell them something that we know: people in the church are jacked up just like everyone else, and it’s okay to admit that.
Thank God we have a great savior.
Southern Baptist pastors mixed with agnostics and folks who didn’t give a rat’s ass about purity. Church-staff hung out with pot-heads. Suicidal, self-aware sinners rubbed shoulders with self-righteous saints who were unaware of their pride. Come to think of it, the three of us should probably tell God we are sorry for personally being prideful through this whole trip.
Each night was not only awkward, intense, sad, and joyful, but also redeeming; it felt like it was all for the glory of God. At least two dozen people admitted, perhaps for the first time, to experiencing times in their lives when they wanted to die. Three siblings shared with a group of strangers their current season of mourning over the year anniversary of their dad’s suicide. Matt lovingly spoke to a wonderful young lady and exposed her blindness to her own pain and her continual pursuit of hiding it underneath smiles and laughter.
Many people cried; more people laughed.
One kid admitted to reading his bible now. He was originally motivated to read it only to convince himself that our posts here at Bad Christian were BS. Now, he is reading regularly, and even though he probably found that some of our posts were indeed BS, he’s reading his bible regularly, rather than just talking about it. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s huge when the people defending the Gospel openly voice their struggle to even read it themselves.
One dude said that the night was “tasteful, real, and not too preachy or Christian.” He admitted to having walked away from his faith, but after experiencing the night of open honesty and community, a hope had been reignited.
It’s easy to become alone in this life and say things like:
“The answer is in ourselves.”
“The answer is world peace and harmony.”
“The answer is in hard work and self-improvement.”
“The answer is in pleasure and whatever feels right.”
“The answer can only be arrived at through intellect and science.”
These things can be a part of the answer, but they cannot fill the void in us that longs for more connection; that longs to be known.
Here’s what we know: humans need community. Humans want to be honest. Humans want each other to be honest.
Through community and honesty, what if more people can find truth? I’d say it’s our only shot.
This is where we start.