I’m sorry, Harvey.

I owe Harvey an apology.

When I was about 17, I used to work with a guy named Harvey. He was a gifted musician. (a real “shredder” – as this was circa 1988). He was into Speed Metal and “Industrial” music at the time (he got me into the band Yello).

But not many people in our little town really “got” Harvey. Harvey was eccentric. He was artsy. Has very west-coast. Well, he was a little weird. But weird in the cool, creative, artsy kind of way – not the creepy perverted kind of weird.

Harvey wore tight pants and loose shirts, old sneakers and had a Sideshow Bob curly red mop of hair. He was a little socially awkward. But I really liked him. I saw potential in him. Aside from the religion stuff, I kind of looked up to him.

Anyway, Harvey and I would often talk about religion. Harvey knew I was a Christ-follower. He would ask questions, and I would do my best to answer them. It must have made some sort of impact on him because the day I invited him to go to church with me, he actually said he would consider it. I was thrilled! It was one of my first ever experiences with relational evangelism and I was pumped about it.

But then suddenly a feeling of dread came over me. Wait a minute – my church (pre-Oakbrook) was full of old white people who liked twangy music. Our pastor at the time was a once-retired Southern Baptist minister who specialized in fiery sermons and cute anecdotes. Our congregation was the kind who “dressed up” for services and called one another “Brother” or “Sister”. I was starting to sweat now. We had some pretty agressive hand-shakers there, too. Would they scare Harvey off? I wondered what people’s reactions to Harvey would be.

Well, Sunday came and Harvey actually did show up. I was excited, but I was also nervous. The service was just beginning and Harvey walked in. I got up and shook his hand and asked him to come sit with me. He declined, saying he’d prefer to stand against the back wall by the exit. (I understood.)

People were generally nice to Harvey, but there were some obvious “looks”. Who’s the new guy? Why is he here? Is he with Jeremy?

The next 90 minutes or so is a blur to me. I was nauseous. I wanted SO MUCH for Harvey to heard the good news and to understand what Jesus was all about. But it didn’t happen. Instead we sang lame song after lame song, the announcements took forever long, and the sermons was about as applicable to Harvey’s life as a 3-piece suit. I was embarrassed by my church. And Harvey left – early.

This story came back to my mind today as I was reading Tim Stevens new book, “Pop Goes The Church.” And it has prompted me to write the following:

Dear Harvey,

I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for dragging you to a place that offered you nothing of the wonderful saving grace of Jesus Christ. I’m sorry that experience cemented in your mind that Christians are completely out of touch with reality, and that their faith experience would never be relevant to your life. And I’m sorry that I just wasn’t mature enough in my own faith to recognize these facts in advance, and try to steer you to another path that would have been more, “you”.

If you ever read this, I hope you will find some satisfaction that your experience with my old church had a radical impact on my life. I became determined after that to be part of a congregation that values people who are far from God, who tries to relate to people who are searching for answers, and one that would welcome people of all spectrums with open arms.

Harvey, if you’re still out there, and you still have spiritual questions…I hope you’ll look me up again and give me (and Christianity) another shot. I promise it will be different than last time.

Your friend,

Jeremy

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6 Comments on “I’m sorry, Harvey.”

  1. drjmarkh Says:

    I had the same kind of experience in Florida once. The deacons wouldn’t even let the hippi who came to church with me in the door!
    Mark

  2. jermtech Says:

    Wow…it’s so so sad. Thanks for visiting me.

  3. morgan Says:

    Nice post jerm.

  4. jermtech Says:

    Thanks, Morgy.

  5. Steven Says:

    Obviously, I don’t know any of the situation, but I don’t think it’s fair to say “I’m sorry for dragging you to a place that offered you nothing of the wonderful saving grace of Jesus Christ.” It may have felt that way to you, that’s between him and God. It may be fair to say the vibe that church gave off maybe turned him off to Christianity (as it often does), but the impact you made on him personally is something he will probably never forget. Some of us are planters, some of us are waterers, some of us help growth. Maybe you were the planter? Just reminds me why we can never depend on “the church” (as an object) to take care of those people by just exposing them to it, but it takes the PEOPLE of the church.
    Just thoughts.
    Great post.

  6. jermtech Says:

    Steven,
    I agree that the parable of the sower is real plays its role. But what about the responsibility of the church? Jesus gave the church two mandates, to GO and to TEACH. The church I grew up in was more of a “holy huddle” that was actually surprised when nonChristians visited.

    My rebuke of that church is that they had lost their way and had forgotten about the primary purpose of the church – to reach the Harveys of the world.

    Hope this clarifies,
    Jerm


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