I confess. I still read the newspaper. Not online, on paper. Week before last, one article caught my attention in the Tampa Tribune, “Survey: More People Not Tied to a Religion.” In it, Michelle Bearden reported on a recent study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx). The Pew Forum study found rapid growth in the number of people who report no religious affiliation, though two-thirds of those say they believe in God. I thought many things about that article. It certainly confirmed part of the reason we started The Well: for those who aren’t sure whether want to follow Christ but want a safe place in which work it out. When I told a reporter recently that even those aren’t sure if they want to follow Christ are welcome at The Well, she was quite surprised. Those who follow Christ had to start somewhere and for many, it was at a place of inquiry long before belief. Even long time Christ followers move deeper in their faith, the longer they believe, continuing to seek as a believer as much as they might have before following Christ.
We also started The Well for those who follow Christ but haven’t found a place to live their beliefs, many of whom fall in the category of ‘nones,’ as the Pew Forum calls them. I know we won’t reach all the ‘nones’ but I also know from chatting with people that many looked for a place to belong but didn’t find it in the traditional church. Perhaps partly due to our widespread cultural distrust of institutions or because of hurts received at a particular church or because they simply dropped out for no specific reason at all. But Jesus doesn’t send us out as faithful solitaries. He told us instead “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34a) That speaks of community, community that the Apostle Paul continued and clarified with more than 20 ‘one another’ verses. We learn to love in community, to love one another, even to love the most difficult among us. So did Jesus love us. So, whether at house church or cathedral, it is ours to love him and one another.