“Antiques,” the flaking wooden sign advertised, hanging over the closed double doors of an old church planted on a rural Maine hillside.
Driving past with my husband, I had just enough time to glimpse the overgrown grass and darkened windows before the church faded from view. “How sad,” I said to Dana, who sat behind the wheel. “But also how appropriate.”
Five years ago I eagerly shared with readers that internationally known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias was speaking in Bangor. The event, Why Jesus?, sold out, packing the Cross Insurance Center with 6,755 people. Among them were a load of high school students I’d wrangled onto a bus.
In a year rife with moral failures by Christian leaders, I read with grim curiosity last week’s New York Times article describing the firing of Carl Lentz, the celebrity pastor of Hillsong’s East Coast church, who recently acknowledged that he’d had an affair. However, the affair was the least of what surprised me. That Lentz admitted to cheating on his wife seemed trivial compared to the rise of a church culture that appears to have courted megastars until the pastor became one.
It has been six months since my family went to church. For every pre-coronavirus Sunday when I fantasized about staying in bed rather than wrangling five people into a pew, I can’t believe how much I’ve miss it.
When it comes to admitting where we’ve made mistakes, the Christian church has often failed to walk in the way of humility, love and repentance set out by Jesus. Two important new books seek to change that by wrestling with the sexual abuse crisis in the church and gender-based violence around the world.