Preferring a One-Night-Stand over Church

I got to East Lansing a little early on Sunday.

For those who are unaware I have been driving out there for church on Sundays.  I am filling the pulpit at Greater Lansing Church of Christ, a small congregation that is interested in getting outside themselves and really beginning to engage their community. I think they asked me to come speak to them about what we are planning to do in Pontiac in hopes that some of that passion would be contagious and they would begin to really think outside the box about how to reach out to folks in East Lansing, but anyway…

I got to Lansing a little early on Sunday.  I had left my house early thinking that the rain would slow me and traffic down a little, but the roads were wide open and I was free to drive as fast as I liked so I got there in a little under an hour.  I decided to kill some time by just driving around campus.

Not long into my drive I pass a girl in a tight white dress, short skirt, soaking wet.  She was holding herself and rubbing furiously, walking without an umbrella in the rain. My assumption was that this wasn’t a leisure stroll, but rather the walk of shame from wherever she was the night before, to where she lived.

I pulled over, asked if she needed a ride and she accepted.

“I’m Cole,” I said, reaching my hand out.

“Bonnie,” she said, shaking my hand.

“What are you doing walking in the rain?”

She confirmed my assumptions. Said she’d been out drinking, met some guy who lived just off Grand River and spent the night with him.  She woke up this morning a little embarrassed and was walking to her house before he woke up.

I told her she would have to give me directions since I didn’t know my way around East Lansing.  “Oh yeah?  What are you doing here?”

“Oh… umm… I am actually speaking at a church just down the road.”

With that she shut down. “Oh my gosh…”

“What?” I asked.

“I can’t believe I told you all of that.  You must think I am such a whore.”

I assured her that wasn’t the case, that someone could pull some pretty harsh conclusions about me depending on when and where they met me. I told her the church I was speaking at was open, loving, and in fact would love to meet her if she was interested in coming. She laughed and said she didn’t think she was interested.

I dropped her off at her apartment, about a mile from where I had picked her up and about two miles from the apartment where she had spent the previous night. She said thanks, I made some comment about staying dry and we parted ways.

Bonnie’s timeline and decisions are interesting to consider.

1)      She was comfortable having sex with someone who was all but a stranger to her.

2)      She decided that she would rather walk two miles in the cold rain than wait for him to wake up.

3)      She was comfortable climbing in the car with a complete stranger.

BUT…There was no way she was comfortable with church.

Where have we gone so wrong that people would prefer a long walk in the cold rain while wearing practically no clothes than spending time in church?

I get it of course.  I wasn’t surprised by her refusal or by the conversation shutting down when she found out I was working for a church. In fact, my talk this morning was about judgementalism, losing our love for people and what the world needs from the church. I was speaking to the exact feelings that Bonnie was feeling next to me in the car.

I’ll probably never see Bonnie again. We didn’t exchange numbers or anything. I dropped her off at her apartment, went and bought some coffee and headed back to the church building. I told some of her story in church today as an illustration about how many young people today feel about the church and its attitude toward their mistakes. Bonnie helped drive my point home. I think the people I talked to today learned something from Bonnie.  It is a shame she would never want to be there to see it.

About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: coleyoakum@gmail.com Flickr: flickr.com/photos/coleyoakum/

14 responses to “Preferring a One-Night-Stand over Church”

  1. Crystal Latham says :

    This is really good and really true. Lately, I’ve felt like the Lord has been telling me that I’m an evangelist. What’s funny about that is that it carries a lot of stigma; the closest associated word in people’s mind is “blasphemy.” Most people when they think of an “evangelist” they get a picture of the many televangelists who’s primary purpose is to talk poor people out of the little money they do have. Absolutely false, just like the picture that people of the world get when they think of “church.”

    So, when you tell me about people like Bonnie… something inside me flips because I want her to experience freedom from that place of total chaos within her. But I won’t see her in church because of the stigma of church. I would never tell her that I’m an evangelist because of the stigma of evangelists.

    But, when we think about the fact that the Gospel is offensive… even when it was coming from Jesus Himself, it makes perfect sense. The world isn’t going to receive the church with open arms because the world doesn’t receive Jesus with open arms… instead they crucified Him. God loves Bonnie. God loves Bonnie enough to send her Cole to show her that not all Christians will shame her. Even (possibly especially) the big ones who work for churches. Praise God for that devine encounter!!

  2. sydneywatkins says :

    Your writing is so great. It always makes me think, question my own self as well.

  3. jill says :

    This post is true. The truth of it is sad, that church is seen as such an uncomfortable, unwelcoming place. Thank you for sharing.

  4. heather joy says :

    Reblogged this on Grow Up! and commented:
    This an awesome read… I hope you’ll take the time to read and ponder it for a few minutes.

  5. Dave says :

    Many people won’t turn their lives to Christ until they’re broken and weak. Much like people won’t fall to that type of sin until they’re broken and weak. The drinking that night most likely caused her to be weak to her better judgement, and that’s when she gave in. When the morning came, so did her senses and she began to feel the guilt. Your question to her may have reminded her of being taken advantage of in a weak state of mind and she may have reacted accordingly. Your care for her getting safely home did way more for her than your invitation to church. Satan uses whatever he can to weaken people’s minds to giving into his way. That might be alcohol, selfish desires…Christ knows we too need to be weakened to give up ourselves for Him. He does this however with love, grace and mercy.

  6. N Boehrig says :

    Hey! Would you mind if I re-posted this on my blog. It fits perfectly with the “Confessions” theme I’ve been sharing. Confessing wrongs that I or others who claim Christ have done to people. Simple because it’s often a wall. Thanks for sharing – for all the Bonnies.

  7. N Boehrig says :

    Reblogged this on Exposed and commented:
    Stumbled upon this blog of a Harding Alum. I felt his thoughts are so in-line with the “Confessions” theme I felt led to share. Let’s continue the confessing, in the spirit of growth and change.

  8. noforbiddenquestions says :

    I would be uncomfortable doing 1, 2, or 3 in your list, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of going to church. Some of it is the judgment that you talk about, sure, but more than anything it’s the falsehood and the delusion (I mean this is the most polite and factual way). I know some people can be convinced to join a religion or a religious organization if the people are nice and friendly enough, but that’s a red herring to me. If you’re teaching claims about reality that we have no reason to think are true, or that we have tons of reasons to think are outright false, I’m not interested in participating.

    A little extra context about the “falsehood and delusion” bit — I’m an atheist, which means I don’t believe any of the claims I’ve heard so far about different gods and their respective teachings. But imagine someone invited you to attend services at a mosque, or a Hindu temple. Would you be “comfortable” there? My guess is no, and I also suspect that it’s not because you think Muslims or Hindus aren’t friendly, welcoming people in general. It’s because you don’t think their religions are true and you don’t want to sit through a couple hours of being told untruths, praying to and singing songs about deities you don’t believe in.

    • coleyoakum says :

      I understand the point you’re driving at. As someone who was also once an atheist I get feeling equally weird about all religions. But I think you’re hitting on a peripheral point since what we’re talking about is the church seeming unwelcoming, not the validity of what we’re teaching.

      • noforbiddenquestions says :

        Thanks for your polite response (always a little nervous about making people angry with my comments) but I’m not sure I agree that this issue is peripheral. All we know about Bonnie is that she “didn’t think she was interested” in going to church. (The OP doesn’t even say she told you she felt “uncomfortable” about it, that’s your later inference.) There are a wide variety of reasons someone might be uninterested in church, and I think it’s hasty to assume that it’s (only, or primarily) because of how welcoming a church is perceived to be.

        Of course, it’s your blog, and whatever you don’t feel like discussing is certainly peripheral to that extent. ::shrug:: And you’re the one that met her, so you know more about her motivations than I do. I’m not going to push it. Just wanted to clarify why I thought my comment was relevant to the discussion.

  9. coleyoakum says :

    Ha! Don’t worry about offending anyone here. We get our fair share of crazies (the author being the main one).

    Maybe you’re right. I am reading into her feelings that she was uncomfortable because of how she would be looked upon. It is very possible that she wasn’t interested on the grounds of the things taught there.

    I feel, though, that if the church were a welcoming place for everyone that anyone could feel welcome there. Perhaps not. Thanks for your comments though!

  10. Pete A. says :

    Sounds a lot like this town! Is there anything to do here besides alcohol, sex, drugs, and witchcraft? Most teenagers say “no way! (phrasing toned down)” And, unfortunately, EVERY church here seems lukewarm. They say “Oh, it isn’t that bad!” Until one of their own teens commits suicide or lands in jail, which happens all too often.

    Lord, give us some “live,” “loving,” and “joyful” churches! Some that will become MORE appealing than a night in town or at a keg party out in the desert.

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