take off your TOM’s, for this is holy ground

this past weekend* i attended an event/conference/gathering (whatever the current term may be) in Los Angeles hosted by the Origins Project ( http://www.originsproject.ning.com ). The speakers were pretty diverse as were the attendees, though spiky hair, designer jeans, worn out tees, tom’s shoes, and apple devices were prevalent. Origins is coined as a gathering that focuses on the themes of creativity, activism, and equipping as part of the mission of Jesus. good stuff. but all in all, the theme that caught my attention and made the wheels of my mind spin was the hope for unity between stage and audience, the desire for discussion and perhaps even a gentle yet deliberate deconstructing of misguided methods.

though the existence of an “all-access” pass for a higher fee essentially goes against these ideas, i understand the reasoning. for the most part, speakers were accessible, open, and desirous of conversation. many innovative ideas were shared and i am sure most left encouraged and feeling less alone in their thinking and understanding. in particular, a definitive moment for me was when Blake Mycoskie ( http://www.toms.com ) came to hear the speaker after his panel had finished and sat right behind me. what? that’s my big moment? yep. perhaps not for the reason you may think, but it settled a deep divide that i have felt since i was a child. the divide between the speaker and the audience, the stage and the pews, the lobby and the green room.

growing up in church we had the “pastor’s study”. this is where the pastor would study, prepare for service, and chat with the guest speakers. i preferred the office of the pastor’s wife because she had a chandelier, red carpet, a vast assortment of tambourines & worship tapes and of course gold leafing galore. through the years, serving within different churches, i discovered more of the same thing, just perhaps less gold. i remember as a kid, that some of my friends were jealous i had been in the inner sanctums of the pastoral caves. i didn’t understand the fuss really, since my favourite locked away place was the sunday school supply closet… i love love love office supplies! since my parents were tithers at the time, i felt the liberty to partake in the “storehouse” bounty. don’t judge me;)

as churches grew larger and larger and the separation grew wider and wider, i remember new rooms being added. we began to see separate green rooms. now we had a choir room, a room for the lead singers and musicians, a room for a variety of leadership teams and of course the “inner green room” for the executive pastors, guest speakers, platinum tithers and armor bearers. it’s no secret that i come from a ministry family and i’ve been in quite a few inner green rooms. if you haven’t been, you’re really missing out. depending on the type of church you attend, this is where you can hear conversations on topics ranging anywhere from how much money was collected, how many people were in attendance, the busty lady in the front row, the latest gossip about pastor so & so, the business ventures of the pastors, to my favourite “how do you think it went today?”… the feedback, the stroking, the encouragement, the excuses. but really when i said you were missing out, i meant the food! there is usually a lovely spread of all sorts of yummies. i’ve been “stealing” food from the green rooms for at least 20 years, though the last few years i gave it away to the homeless and the starving youth band.

so… why the separation? why create celebrity within the church? why endorse elitism? why not follow the example of Christ? we all have an inkling of why… at least we do if we even have a vague understanding of our humanity. we have a deep desire to be different, better, set apart, entitled. some of us signed up for christianity because we were aware of our need for a saviour, yet we stay in it because of our need to now be better than the others. what are we saying to those who walk into the doors of a church gathering for the first time if we have rows of reserved seating, locked doors marked staff only, whisked away stage folks, and green room caves that they may never ever step foot in? as humans, we love the tours of castles and cathedrals that grant access to the private and hidden rooms. we pay extra for the all-access pass. we want to see behind the curtain. God understood this. He wanted to change this and free us from the tendency to feel separated… so on the day of Christ’s crucifixion, The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). we seem to spend a lot of time trying to stitch it back up.

it is significant to me that Blake sat behind me because it is significant for me to be invested in a gathering that is not busy mending a curtain, but rather the brokenhearted, the lost to their father, and ourselves to one another. there are no green rooms at my church. there are no curtains. there are no reserved seats. there are imperfections, but we, as The Church, serve humanity well when we exemplify how accessible our God is and desirous He is to be known by us.

*re-post (originally posted 7/27/10)

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  • Comments (17)
    • Sara Martinez
    • July 26th, 2010

    i love the fact that His desire is to be known. He knows all about us and still longs to have relationship with us, even though we are so jacked up.

      • JuliaKate
      • July 26th, 2010

      i love that His desire is to be known also… like really really really love that and then that He also really really really loves knowing us. wow!

  1. I am standing… and clapping! BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! Now I am at the will call booth buying a ticket for the next blog event!

      • JuliaKate
      • July 26th, 2010

      Bravo that perhaps the overlooked and neglected may once again catch our eye, before we rush to our caves. Bravo that perhaps at least one of the 70-something people that have read so far will practice their churchianity differently. Bravo that perhaps one of them may recognize their own desire for one day being granted access and be set free to understand Christ is our access. Bravo that maybe the starving youth band may get some bagels next sunday and the homeless may get some granola bars and grapes. Bravo to the Holy Spirit who does his work in ways we can not see. Bravo! πŸ˜‰

    • vito
    • July 26th, 2010

    As long as everyone remembers that, although the curtain was torn, God left the dessert tray unscathed. πŸ˜€

    I really enjoy your writing, Julia. You broaden my perspective with each post I read. Thanks for that.

      • JuliaKate
      • July 26th, 2010

      i was laughing so hard when i read that! and thanks for the encouragement Vito… no really, thanks.

    • Katrina Hare
    • July 26th, 2010

    Wow! That was amazing. This is yet another of your posts that I will be quoting from now πŸ™‚

      • JuliaKate
      • July 26th, 2010

      just don’t quote the part about stealing food and office supplies! lol

  2. there was a time when i enjoyed the exclusivity of the green room, the romance with power, the presence of kings. that day has gone and i am reminded of the heart of Christ, the compassion of one who embraced common man, the hand of one who touch the lepers.

    in today’s festivals of righteousness, we have taken up the practices of the neighboring lands, whose bureaucratic operations have more over replaced the theocratic governing of old. we were never meant to operate as a humanistic hierarchy, but rather as a linear community being governed by a single deity. pastors, apostles, evangelists, teachers, prophets all coming together to support each other on a journey to know our creator. every man with his own purpose, yet no man more important than the other.

    “open the door and take my hand, for it is impossible to journey with those behind walls.”

      • JuliaKate
      • July 26th, 2010

      great quote josh… and i’m loving the term “festivals of righteousness” πŸ˜‰

    • Very nicely stated son.

  3. Julia:

    To one who was wounded with invisibility at a young age, your post spoke to my heart.

    Accessible. Available yet holy. This is my God.

    Thank you for your words.

    Privileged to meet you, at Origins10, Julia.

    Dawn Carter

      • JuliaKate
      • July 26th, 2010

      privileged to meet you also Dawn. thank you for reading and commenting… It’s amazing how the one with all the power in the world is so willing to be accessible. amazing;)

    • Natalie
    • July 28th, 2010

    There are so many “reasons” I’ve heard and given to protect the idea of the inner sanctum that the “green room” represents. I’ve never felt at ease with any of them, just an answer in the moment to ease the discomfort because we know something just ain’t right. Is there any justification for exclusivity in the church? I don’t believe so. Jesus was available. He was inconvenienced, pressed beyond what his flesh may have felt he could give, his teachings publicly scrutinized and questioned. He lovingly included all who sought truth, and even invited in those who didn’t. He ate, rested, prayed, spent time with his intimate friends, all while in step with the Spirit. None of us can be perfect, but we can look at what we do and how we do it and ask ourselves, is there any justification for exclusivity in the church? I don’t believe so. Thank goodness for conviction, repentance and forgiveness.

    And, when you were talking about the benefits of the greenroom, I was like, when is she gonna mention the food?! That’s the best part…LOL

      • JuliaKate
      • July 28th, 2010

      “suffer not the little children to come to me… let them come!” it’s interesting that essentially the ones that we keep from coming are the “children” of the faith, those that are “young in the Lord”. so many have felt that awkwardness when trying to explain away the separation… but generation after generation we muzzle our conviction and follow the rules. hmmm… interesting stuff, huh? thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom.

  4. Good stuff! I especially love the line: “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). we seem to spend a lot of time trying to stitch it back up.” My sentiments exactly!

    • Dorienne
    • November 16th, 2010

    Would you write a book already or something?!!! Lol!! This stuff needs to be shouted from the proverbial rooftops, for goodness’ sake! πŸ™‚

    The one additional thing I noticed with Christian celebrities, in general, is that they are not as warm and pleasant in the green room as they are under the spotlight. Church is showbiz in America; an enterprise of money and prestige. If the patterns in the Bible hold true, we are in for one hard fall.

    I’m glad you fed the youth band.

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