Monday, March 23, 2009

I was a bad boy

Yesterday was Sunday.
And I didn't spend the morning in a church service.
For some people that is completely normal—they just don't go to church.
For others, it isn't too unusual—they attend when they can, but sometimes they can't.
But for me, I'm old school.
When I was a kid, I was in church at least 4 times a week—and that is counting Sunday school and morning service as one time. And we lived 15 minutes or so from town.
Even now, I basically never miss.
Partly because I am usually part of the tech team (and then I'm there 1½ hours early), but also still partly because I sort of feel guilty if I'm not there.
Did you notice what I didn't say? I don't tend to attend out of great personal enjoyment (although it isn't unenjoyable), or because of great personal fulfillment.
I expect that that might be significant. Maybe my church paradigm isn't based on the right criteria.
It could be 'the fault' of my present church setting--'They' aren't focused on the 'right' things.
Or it could be that I am missing the joy and value because I'm not picking up on the opportunity to be doing the 'right' things.

So, I felt a bit odd yesterday morning.
Instead of cloistering myself with fellow congregants, I chose to hang out at my favorite caffeinated beverage emporium, have some coffee, conversation, and read a good book.
It felt weird doing this on a Sunday, although it feels completely normal any other day.
But somehow, it felt closer to what a Sunday (or any day) experience should be:

By the way, I went to church last night—guilt, you know!
But, although the worship and sermon were good, the whole experience was:
--not relational at all (I literally didn't say a word to anyone except during the 'shake someone's hand' time).
--not particularly interactive, except for the hand shaking. Although I was singing songs of worship in the same room where others were also singing, I didn't really sing 'with' them.
--more ethereal than earthy, only moderately practical.
--and only moderately profitable.

The whole experience reminds me that:
--gathering together as members of the same club should be primarily for the purpose of encouraging, challenging, and helping each other. 1 Corinthians 14:26 So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all (edifying, common good, help each other grow, building up).
--The upkeep of buildings and paid professionals can easily detract us from serving people (especially non-members).
--since worship and learning can and should happen on an individual level, there needs to be effort put into including interaction, encouragement and mutual ministry when we do them (worship and learning) in a group setting. If our worship and study times in a church setting are essentially a bunch of individuals doing them privately in the same room, we are really missing the point.

The concept of house churches (autonomous house-sized and house-contained groups of Christ-followers) and small home groups (a larger church setting broken down into intimate house-sized groups) seem to accomplish these goals more successfully.

I plan on being back in my regular church next Sunday. After all, it's my turn to do some of the tech stuff! But I continue to look for the best ways of experiencing and expressing the Kingdom—7 days a week, and not just for an hour or two Sunday morning.

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