Sometimes when we are short on volunteers I fill in behind the counter at Java Journey our Christian coffee shop here in Hickory. We get all kinds of folks through our doors. Some could care less about spiritual matters. They are just there to use the wi-fi or drink the coffee. Some really "get" what we are doing and want to partner in ministry, bringing more folks through the doors in hopes of helping them on their spiritual journey.
Then, there are the "church
ladies" (there are church guys too). These are the women who outwardly have it all together. Their nails, hair and makeup is perfect. They may participate in or lead a Bible study or women's group or several Bible studies or women's groups. They have lots and lots of Bible knowledge. Just not a lot of practical application for it outside the church walls. (Don't get me wrong. I am not knocking those who go to church.) When they learn we are a Christian coffee shop they get excited because they can use our space for their friends or church group...just don't ask them to open their group to any outsiders. It usually never crosses their minds.
They somehow miss the point that we are trying to be a market place ministry--neutral ground for those who are truly, spiritually hungry. We never intended to be a place for holy huddles. We want those who enter to feel safe and welcome to talk about spiritual matters without fear of judgment or Christian phoniness. Hmm. Probably not going to happen through any church ladies.
You see, church ladies speak Christianese, that foreign language that only the well-churched can understand. They have a shellacked presence that smacks of artificiality and insulated existence. They often think they are spiritual giants. They make sure you know how many Bible studies they lead or participate in. But they don't know how to break out of their churchy huddles. They are more wrapped up in their own church's function and existence and their Biblical standing than they are in the needs of the hurting world around them. In fact, I am not even sure they know there is a world outside their church. Though they are well immersed in what the Bible teaches, they somehow miss the real application of Jesus' words.
In my book the Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father, I talk specifically to women about living an authentic Christian lifestyle. I use Proverbs 31 as an example of the ideal spiritual woman. But I stress that the real person we are to model our lives after is Christ. Anything else is just a poor copy. Living the life of a Proverbs 31 woman doesn't mean we have to be perfect. We can drop the pretenses. In fact, we are more likely to connect with folks if we peel away the veneer. Church ladies somehow miss this. They are outwardly put together, but so inflexible and brittlethey'd break into tiny pieces to reveal a hollow core. God honors authenticity, even with flaws and inclusions over outward polish and perfection.