Here I sit awaiting the results of the Presidential election. As I write, we don't have an answer yet. Regardless of who wins, very little will change in your daily life -- at least right away. COVID will still be the new reality and winter will still be freezing our toes off at night. Regardless of who wins, we will still all NEED people to warm us up on the inside. (Anyone else also buy a mega-can of Swiss Miss for daily consumption?!)
My mind sits fixated on the disconnection that abounds in a pandemic world. Even before COVID, statistics and studies showcased how lonely we were becoming as a nation. I can only imagine the rates now -- and how this isolated period will reverberate in the long-term. I know teenagers are suffering, the number indicate depression and higher levels of susceptibility to suicide.
The Zoom sanctuary may not be cutting it for you anymore. Or maybe you are back to church in person, but it's just not the same. We've been back since July, but masked and spaced, and a room not nearly full of faces I loved to see. And here I am, writing a book about church, at a time when it's impossible for so many to attend in person.
Moving in the Margins
But God is moving, always. I spoke with a pastor friend yesterday and she said, "The megachurch is breaking down." I've got nothing against megachurch -- it has brought light and life so plenty of people and communities -- but if you aren't intentional, you can miss out on the healing and life the Church should bring. It's not just COVID, but a new generation of church leadership who are prioritizing "small" -- and that's the way I think so many more people are going to come back to faith.
Speaking with individuals who have left church, one of the only thing that entices them back is the idea of small. Intimate. Vulnerable. Homey. It's not easy to find these little communities, but I'm hoping to make them more accessible. Not sure how just yet, but I think that God's Church is where He does His favorite work and transforms lives. COVID is no match for the Church. Loneliness isn't either. We're transforming. And God's going to meet people exactly where they are.
Are you part of a smaller church community? What do you like about it? I'd love to hear form folks about what they like about their particular churches if you feel like writing me back!
On My Radar
John Piper: Policies, Persons and Paths to Ruin (did anyone read this controversial piece? What were your thoughts?)
Wall Street Journal: How next-door neighbors with opposing political views stayed friends
Watching: The Queen's Gambit on Netflix (very good!)
ALSO: I wrote about philanthropy and humanity for USA Today, kids ministry for ERLC, humility in politics for Christians and 6 Things I Learned From Reading the Old Testament (finished the whole thing!)
Book Review: Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.
I cannot do this book justice, but I believe every single woman should read it. I will likely do a more in depth post about this at some point, but let me say this: For my entire life, I have struggled with sex, intimacy, sexuality in general. I long put the blame on "purity culture" (more on that from me here), but also felt like it was something more -- something innate.
Turns out, NO ONE talks about the realities of women's sexuality. TURNS OUT, every concept of sex we have in our culture is based on male reality. It's all so much more complicated for women than I ever knew and there are so many reasons why it has been so hard for me all these years. I have felt broken and inadequate, spent so much anxiety and self-loathing on this because I felt I didn't measure up and could never be what I was "supposed" to be.
It's not just the Church, but our entire culture that screwed me up. Men are the default. Men's needs rule. Men's assumptions and desires trump all. Not *always* the case, and not *every* man, but generally speaking, women have been misunderstood and taken advantage of. It's not men's fault -- they've also been taught this by culture -- but WOW, is it time for a new perspective.
I'm highly sensitive on this topic -- others may not feel it as deeply -- but I've finally accepted that there is nothing wrong with me. I will say, I am reading this book as I finish up a fantastic course -- it's kind of changed my life -- on the same subject. The "Wanting It More" program is incredible. If you are a woman who struggles in this area, I can't recommend this book and this program more.
Worth Your Time Podcast Episodes
I've had three episodes since my last email so let me just do a little bragging on these lovely guests!
1. Alexandra Hoover: Women, the Church & Holy Surrender. This girl is on fire right now, has a beautiful ministry to women, just signed a book deal and is just full of God's Spirit. Her message is amazing and she's a lot of fun to boot!
2. Angelise Schraeder. Parenting in Faith Through Childhood Cancer. Angelise's son was diagnoased with cancer at 18 months, and is still dealing with it at 4 years old. Her faith through this incredibly difficult battle is so inspiring and I took so much from her here.
3. Megan Westra: Having a Curious Faith. Ever since talking with Megan, I've been hooked on this phrase "curious faith." Megan is the author of “Born Again and Again: Jesus’ Radical Call to Transformation” and has a Masters of Divinity. She’s also an activists and advocate for the most vulnerable in our society.
*Grab all these episodes on iTunes (click the photos for links to audio + video as well) or wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoy the podcast, please consider leaving a review on iTunes and sharing your favorite episodes on social media with a screen shot!
Verse of the Day
“But among you [CHRISTIANS!] it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant." -- Mark 10:43
Thanks for being here. Here if you need to get anything off your chest or respond to anything I sent today!
P.S.: I broke down and joined TikTok @erickaandersensyl -- anyone love it?