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I grew up highly involved in a charismatic Christian church. I started playing in the worship band from the age of 10 and was a main worship leader by 15. Between the three regular services per week, various rehearsals, and other ministries I was involved in, my life revolved around the church. Every now and then I would travel to different parts of the country or world to minister through music and dance, as well as offering prophecy and healing prayer to people in churches or on the street. Also being homeschooled, for years, my life was fairly insulated.
Although being appreciated for my abilities felt good, I wasn’t always comfortable in what was supposed to be my church home, and there were certain things that rubbed me the wrong way. The worldview I was handed was very narrow in the sense that it excluded so many; even people from other churches were demonized at times. Questioning that worldview was seen as either rebellion, deception, or even the work of evil spirits. I had a feeling in my gut that this wasn’t right. I was continuously finding myself on the side of the outsider whether it be another church’s youth pastor, a homeless Abraham Lincoln look-a-like who asks questions during the sermon, a woman being dragged out for sharing her experience of heaven after being given a platform to speak, my girlfriend who didn’t speak in tongues, kids who talk about their sexual impulses, anyone with different political affiliations, homosexuals, and the most obvious, non-christians.
There was an underlying dissonance within me because I was always an open-hearted kid. As a toddler, I would, apparently, go up to complete strangers and sit in their laps. I haven’t had enough therapy to really know why, but I’m constantly striving for connection with everyone, always striving to minimize separation and maximize oneness. I’ve always just naturally been able to see past differences, striving to achieve harmony with people. This does not fit well within a conservative Christian context where separation from God because of sin is a belief that functions as the main axis of its worldview.
Naturally as I grew older, went to college, experienced more of the outside world, I stumbled through Christianity having one foot in and one foot out of its proverbial door. I studied scripture, discussed theology, and continued to lead worship various places. Meanwhile my belief in God as a being and Jesus as my savior was slowly fading. Despite the deconstruction of my former beliefs, Christ never ceased to compel me.
Sometimes I left with more questions than answers, yet I was more alive than ever. Christ was being revealed to me in brand new ways.
Now I consider Collective to be the most ‘Christian’ church I’ve ever experienced. The origin of the word christian is Greek and simply means “follower of Christ”. Sadly, over time the word has been tainted by power structures and exclusionary systems of religion not unlike those that worked to crucify Jesus in the New Testament. One of the most powerful attributes of Christ that I resonate with is radical inclusivity. Jesus wasn’t afraid to be with people that were deemed unclean. He ate with sinners. He listened to women and empowered them as if he wasn’t living in an overtly patriarchal world (which he was).
Jesus insisted that God’s favor was not just for Israel (Luke 4:16-30); blessing, freedom, and restoration was open for all. You find a similar notion in Collective’s community statement: “…we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity.” You see this in Collective Cares, an LGBT Safe Zone and Ally Community. Collective is a misfit faith community not afraid to reach outside of the confines of Christianity to help people. Meditation, yoga, beer, secular music, explicit language, science, philosophy, and stand-up comedy are a few of the typically taboo things I have encountered at Collective, and I love it. Many churches claim that all are welcome, yet many people still don’t feel like they can be themselves. At Collective, you really can be as you are. That is why I pledge. The one unwavering belief I do have is that everyone belongs, and that notion is always present at Collective.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
Paid Professional Childcare Available during Sunday Services
1 - 5 years of age | Childcare
6 - 11 years of age | Collective Kids