It was hot after our bike ride on The Loop and I had promised my daughter she could swim a bit in the river to cool down. I lathered her in sun screen, put on her suit, and we carefully made our way through the busy parking lot.
“How you doin’ today ma’am?”
“My name is Bob. I’m from the Baptist Church and we are havin’ a little outreach over here. Would you be interested in joinin’ us this afternoon?”
“Simone keep walking and hold Mommy’s hand. No, thanks.”
“Well you have a fantastic day ma’am.”
Ugh. I really hate moments like these for many reasons. I don’t really understand Evangelical Christianity in America. I don’t think I need to save anyone, and I certainly see no point in walking up to people in the parking lots to try to entice them with a barbecue and salvation. Jesus walked along side people. He had dinner with them, not because he knocked on their door and handed them a tract, but because he was invited in. He formed legitimate relationships with people. He didn’t have bouncy castles or expensive rock concerts to make people join his club. He was just there, walking along side.
I know that this guy probably prayed for me as I was hurrying to get away from him. Then he probably shook his head, uttered a “tsk tsk” under his breath, and prayed for my child’s soul.
Although I resent that in Germany if I claim to be a Christian I must pay a tax to the Church, I like that religion is much more personal there. Germans tend to be rather stoic and private about their personal beliefs, even though their culture is filled with hundreds of religious holidays and celebrations. The Three Kings come to our door every year to bless our house, but no one is trying to save me, bribe me, or tell me I’m worthless without Christ.
I have always felt more in tune with the Desert Fathers or the Mystics. That’s why the only church I ever felt truly comfortable in was a Quaker Meeting Hall. I appreciate that 50 minutes of silence. I appreciate that people can be in fellowship with each other and be quiet. No liturgy, no praise songs, no talking. I guess I get this from my father. His church was a rock bar on the Hoh River. This was where he communed with the spirit, and I guess he raised me to find God in that quiet, in Nature’s cathedral.
What really bothers me is that these Evangelicals all assume I need saving. I’m good, thanks. Really. Maybe we should have cards that we flash at moments like these, that way they know we are in the club before they start the hard sell.