Jump directly to the Content


It's not easy to describe the church.

The first time I attended LaSalle Street Church in inner-city Chicago, I sat behind a middle-aged black woman and her thirteen-year-old daughter. When we stood to sing, the girl turned around and grinned at those of us in the pew behind her. We smiled back politely, and she continued grinning and staring at us. She acted strange, even retarded. Then on the fourth stanza of the hymn, she bent over, grabbed the hem of her skirt, and lifted it over her head, exposing herself.

Welcome to church.

Over the next few years, we learned to count on the unexpected. One Sunday a man aimed a football, a perfect spiral pass, at the pastor who was standing at the altar praying over a full tray of Communion glasses.

Another time, a street woman wrapped in many skirts wandered to the platform during the sermon, genuflected, and started talking aloud to the pastor.

A more hostile man called down curses on the pastoral staff during the congregation's spontaneous "Prayers of the People": "God, burn down their ...

Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Church 2 Church
Church 2 Church
Congregations are trading short-term "love 'em and leave 'em" missions for long-term partnerships
From the Magazine
Fractured Are the Peacemakers
Fractured Are the Peacemakers
A Christian reconciliation group in Israel and Palestine warned that war would come. Now the war threatens their relevance.
Editor's Pick
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
Understanding God and our world needs more than bare reason and experience.