There’s an underground current rushing through Tyler, Texas right now. It’s a movement full of creativity and community, and it’s one that I wasn’t really expecting to experience.
The first time I lived here, I despised every second of it. I hated living in the south, and wasn’t a fan of how sheltered people seemed to be. Texas is a little world in and of itself, and many of the people I encountered didn’t care to expand their way of thinking. I moved as soon as possible for university in the funky little town of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
I adored Fayetteville after one visit. The weather was milder which made outdoor activities such as hiking and camping much more enjoyable. They have an amazing music scene, and local businesses are given a huge priority in the community. It was an exciting place to call home for a while.
Being back in Tyler has been an unexpected journey for me. I dreaded being surrounded by that small town atmosphere again. However, Tyler’s changed. There are so many people that I knew years and years ago that I keep running into that have joined this underground community. It’s a community built up of artists, musicians, and dreamers. It’s obvious that this culture is being built very intentionally, and that’s so exciting to me. I had a talk with a new friend yesterday who was talking about living in Tyler again, and he said that when he moved back to Tyler, he knew that if he wanted a good atmosphere to live in, he would have to part of the hard working group to create it.
It’s thrilling to be a part of a group of people who are creating a culture that they can be proud of living in. After all, we’re part of the generation that is ripe for initiating change.
“I like to surround myself with creative people. They love life in such a contagious way that can’t often be put into words” – Rachel Wolchin
I wrote a post on my old blog about a major problem that I’ve experienced and seen in the “Christian” culture today back in April of 2013. Interestingly enough, this, out of everything else I wrote on that blog, was the one thing that I’ve had people make a point to tell me that they appreciated reading. Even more interesting is that the people who spoke to me were all people I knew from growing up in the church.
There’s a very common pattern of people growing up in the church and deciding to leave it as soon as they leave home. It’s been written about all over the internet by people far more educated than myself with tips and tricks to bring the “lost generation” back to the church. I’ve read more than my fair share of these articles, mostly rolling my eyes through most of them.
The reason my opinion of the church changed so drastically was because I saw the way people were treated when people saw them as “lost sheep”. There’s one attitude when a group of people are out on a mission trip to try and reach as many people as they can, but then there’s the everyday attitude: stay in your comfortable bubble with your friends and your nice things, and don’t make an effort to help or reach out to people you know are hurting.
This is not what Jesus was about. This is not what the early church was about. Somewhere along the way, the message got twisted. I’m going to quote Donald Miller just like I did in my last post about this topic, simply because he writes the words I wish I had been brilliant enough to write: “I loved the fact that it wasn’t my responsibility to change somebody, that it was God’s, that my part was just to communicate love and approval” (Blue Like Jazz). This is what the church should be doing. The church should be showing love to everyone, no matter if they agree with the actions and behaviors surrounding a person.
Many of the friends I have that have stopped going to church or associating themselves with the modern American church have done so because of the lack of pure love that many prominent figures that claim “Christianity” have show to mass amounts of people. Sure, they love the people that fit into their idea of a proper Christian, but are they loving the people that don’t? Are they loving the people that have different views on relationships, lifestyles, or even politics? Are they friendly toward the ones they call sinners? No, and that’s the main problem I have. Jesus was friends with all sorts of people. He loved all people. It didn’t matter their race, background, decisions. That should be the example for Christians today.
If you’re one of those people that despairs over the amount of millennials who have left the church, take a look at how you portray your beliefs on a regular basis. I think the Bible says it best: “The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (1 John 4:21)