I’m glad I went to Church Under the Bridge but it’s unlikely I’ll go again anytime soon.
If you’re not aware, Church Under the Bridge is a church under a bridge. It was initiated to cater to all peoples (homeless, wealthy, students, all races, all cultures). You can find out more about it on their web-site or in my previous blog post about it.
I first heard about church under the bridge when the founder, Jim Dorrell, came to speak to my Perspectives class. I was intrigued because I think that open acceptance in churches is easy to say and exceedingly difficult in practice.
I also want to state that I firmly believe that everyone should have a church home (a church with which they are a registered member) where people know them and they feel they are a part of a church family. God promises us community if we walk in the light ( But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 )
When I initially embarked on the trip to visit Church Under the Bridge, I didn’t think of it as church hopping. That changed when my main impression of church under the bridge was how amazingly normal it was. This is just a church not too different from my own (except they meet under a bridge). I felt that I was making a spectacle of them by traveling 2 hours to attend.
Four walls do not make a church. People make a church. Just as my church family at my home church knows me, greets me, asks me specifics about what’s going on in my life, these people know each other intimately as they walk through life together week after week. I found myself missing my home church. Afterwards, I reflected that the reason I went was because they had a unique characteristic that I viewed as abnormal. What’s unique about my home church? Well… my pastor (Pastor Robert Johnson) is a black man pastoring a mostly white church.
If someone visited my church just to check it out because of our black pastor, I would be welcoming and flattered but I might also feel a little funny. We’re not a side show. We are a church family.
One of the things I learned from Church Under the Bridge about how they achieve widespread and far-reaching acceptance is that they DO NOT ignore differences among members but embrace them. They did not try to pretend that everyone’s life experience or walks with God would be exactly the same. They recognized that different races, genders, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses are going to have different treatment by the world and different ways of approaching the world/life.
In fact, since it was Cinco de Mayo, they celebrated their hispanic members. They had a Bart Simpson pinata hanging from the bridge for the kids to play with after church. The pastor said of the pinata: “If you’re a minority and have ever felt mistreated by a white man and wanted to hit them, you can take out that frustration on the white man, Bart Simpson. Please do not hit real white people.”