the Gym, the Church, and my hope for 2014

Already 2014 has brought several significant changes. I, like thousands of other Americans joined a gym as part of my New Years resolution to get in better shape. I decided to join Planet Fitness mostly because of it’s hard to beat price, but also because I really like their core policies of being a judgement fee zone and emphasizing their “You Belong” slogan so emphatically. It’s even printed on the gyms equipment!

I also went to Church this past weekend. This may not seem like anything special to most of you reading this, but trust me it was a BIG deal to me. This Sunday represented the first time I was able to convince myself to go back to church since I decided I needed to leave Celebrate Recovery in early November, and that return was exactly what I needed! Being able to take part in the Eucharist reaffirmed my standing within the Body of Christ. Even though I’m not exactly sure what that standing is right now. It was great to be able to worship and sing praises with a group of believers again. I was even brought to tears at one point. I’m interested to see where this new step in my journey will lead, but I’m also nervous that this will be yet another faith community that I won’t be welcomed into when they find out I’m gay, and that I have no plans to become straight (as if that’s even possible). for now I’m choosing to live in the present because having a tangible connection to the Body is something that I desperately need right now.

However it’s this very nervousness that got me thinking. Why is a message of belonging stressed so loudly at my gym to the point that it’s on everything, yet barely audible at my Church? Take a minute to think about that question. It’s been floating around my heart and my head for the past few days. To illustrate my point a little better the following is Planet Fitness’s mission statement.

We at Planet Fitness are here to provide a unique environment in which anyone – and we mean anyone – can be comfortable. A diverse, Judgement Free Zone® where a lasting, active lifestyle can be built. Our product is a tool, a means to an end; not a brand name or a mold-maker, but a tool that can be used by anyone. In the end, it’s all about you. As we evolve and educate ourselves, we will seek to perfect this safe, energetic environment, where everyone feels accepted and respected. We are not here to kiss your butt, only to kick it if that’s what you need. We need you, because face it, our planet wouldn’t be the same without you. You belong!

I think the Church at large may have a case of what planet fitness calls “gymtimidation” only more spiritualized. We allow those who face serious rejection (sometimes on a daily basis) to fall though the cracks between the belt of the liturgical treadmill while we Ohh and Aww at others who go around flexing their “spiritual muscles” of authority. In response to this I’d like to take a page out of the planet fitness playbook and make my it my prayer and hope for the church in 2014.

We as the Body of Christ are here to provide a unique environment in which anyone – and we mean anyone can be comfortable. A diverse, judgement free zone where a lasting and active walk with Christ can be built and experienced. We have no product only tools like Common Prayer, Eucharist, Liturgy, and Community. It is not a means to an end of either heaven or hell. It’s all about your walk with Christ. As we evolve and educate ourselves as well as one another we will seek to perfect this safe, inclusive, environment where everyone feels accepted and respected. We are not here to spoon feed you Sunday School answers only to push your faith deeper because that’s what we all need. We need you, because face it, the Body of Christ wouldn’t be the same without you. You Belong. Amen
This is my prayer and my hope for 2014. God Bless

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