Tuesday, November 30, 2010

leaving church, part 2

See the previous post.  And now the search for a new church has begun for my friend, and he's having a difficult time of it.

My insight for today is that people don't go to church because those in charge of church make it too unpleasant. This is a distressing discovery as I loved going to [a previous church] every Sunday for about 5 years.  Here, after 1-1/2 years I've come to dread much of the experience.

In our immediate area (10-mile radius) we are surrounded by Baptists, with a smattering of liberal Methodists and Presbyterians.

There are some Roman Catholic churches, but they keep pretty quiet, which is probably a good thing considering the kinds of things the bishops have been up to with the homosexual priests over the past several decades.

The local Presbyterian church is in a state of collapse following the pastor's affair with a member of the congregation.

One of the Baptist churches publishes on its web site a demographic survey showing the education levels and annual incomes of its members. What do we make of that? Is that a warning to stay away if your income is too low or you spent too much or too little time in school?

Most of the Baptist churches are tiny and might consist of not much more than a grouping of a few extended families.

One of the non-affiliated churches we tried treats the worship service like a coffee shop gathering where everyone feels good about God.

We were in one church a couple of years ago where the coffee and donut bar was in the vestibule as you entered and the Communion buffet was down the aisle at the front of the church. You could walk up and partake as you saw fit.

An elderly friend attends a church near here that teaches that God is love and that She will save everyone. You just have to think loving thoughts and be kind of good to others.

We attended another church in a storefront (by mistake as it turns out when we took a wrong turn) where several people with prayer requests spent 15 or 20 minutes lying flat on their backs on the floor after the minister and some others had prayed over them. Reminded me of a Benny Hinn TV program.

And, of course, our former church has been cranking up the decibels during the past year so that if they were a factory OSHA would require us all to wear ear protection. I wonder that OSHA doesn't have requirements for church employees in this environment.

I was thinking at supper tonight that this church has a considerable fortune invested in electronics with all the audio equipment, remote control video cameras, giant flat-screen TVs in the auditorium and throughout the building, and production studios and the full-time staff it takes to run all this. At least the Catholic Church put its money into gold goblets, which could always be sold when money was needed. The electronics is worth about zip the moment it is installed.

Out of its nearly $4 million budget, our church spends $200,000 on missions, mostly in the form of sending money to support the Missions Board. A couple of dozen people did go on short term mission trips this summer. $700,000 goes to salaries and benefits for the staff of the education ministry, meaning the youth, education, missions, and children’s ministers and staff. Almost $400,000 goes to salaries and benefits for the Media Ministries staff. 

And every one of the church web sites I look at has the most obvious technical and content errors after just a couple of clicks. Doesn't anyone ever look at what they publish? On some you cannot get a consistent statement of the time at which some events will occur since different pages have different times.

I'm hoping to come out of my stewing funk by tomorrow.  My wife and I will celebrate our anniversary on Sunday. Time to thank God for that blessing and let things develop as He leads.



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