I am searching my files for stories to workshop, and as I search I find the most interesting little fragments, like this one. I wish it wasn't so hard to tell stories of churches and leadership without the modern-day shadows. I found my way into a good church, truly good, though made of sinners like every church.
As a teenager I followed rumors of a new preacher in town, a man with long hair and bell-bottom jeans, a man who played guitar on the church lawn and played loud music from the parsonage. A cute boy named Dale could sometimes be found at that church, so I showed up, sat down, sang for an hour before I remembered Dale—he didn’t come. But I didn’t leave. I wore bell-bottomed jeans. I had long hair, too. And I loved to sing. Adults spoke to me as if I was interesting, as if they knew nothing of the long history of my family in this small town. Adults cared about me, even though they were not my school teachers or my relatives. I stayed. The place felt miraculous.
I didn’t say a sinner’s prayer or make a public conversion. I’d attended local Vacation Bible School and the children’s Good News Club, and I liked this Jesus character as long as the church members actually loved, instead of hating people who go to movies or wear makeup, like the Baptist church down the road.
I was testing this new group of people, to see if they believed for real.