People resonated with the story of how I closed my church plant a few years ago. Here is one final reflection about that difficult but formative time.

I doubt closing a church is easy in any situation. But the Riverside was not just any church. I had planted it myself, and its closure felt especially personal. The deepest experiences of my life were inextricably bound to that community, and so it was wrenching to see those ties severed. For two years, my life revolved around three themes: my family, my church, and my wife’s cancer. My family would survive my wife’s cancer, but sadly, my church would not. Perhaps this explains why the closure of my church affected me so profoundly and so negatively.

But I also think it has something to do with happy endings.

America loves happy endings where the good guy gets the girl and the bad guy his just deserts. Many a studio executive has discovered this when they are bold enough to produce a film with an ambivalent ending, one in which it is not manifestly clear that everyone is better off than when they began. Test audiences howl at the injustice of it all and demand their money back, even though they saw the movie for free. In fact, the endings of some famous films have been rewritten because of this fact.

But this goes far beyond our taste in movies. It is a reflection of American culture as a whole, specifically, the American dream. The American dream revolves around the belief that if a person works hard enough and generally treats others well, he will thrive in this country. And this is why we love happy endings. They are consistent with the American dream and serve to reinforce the rightness of that worldview. Without these conclusions, we experience uncomfortable ...

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Third Culture
Third Culture looks at matters of faith from the multicultural and minority perspective.
Peter Chin
Peter W. Chin is the pastor of Rainier Avenue Church and author of Blindsided By God. His advocacy work for racial reconciliation has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, and the Washington Post.
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