Tuesday, April 12, 2011

leaving church part 3

This is a third missive from a close friend who moved away from our community and his first real home church, relocating to a new community.  Their search for a solid evangelical church has been eye-opening to me, as to the options in our American culture.  My friend is not extreme, nor too curmudgeonly, but is very perplexed by the three-ring-circus display of the kinds of churches which call themselves evangelical.

His first two installments are found here and here.

It occurs to me this morning that [our former church, a good experience, he says] also needs to prepare its congregants for moving out into the larger world beyond it.  There should be a program guiding such folk in finding their next church and how to live among the cacophonous mess that calls itself Christianity. 

[My daughter] has been invited to join a homeschooling house church. Fortunately, she has declined. One of their foundational beliefs is that creation occurred in six literal days (by which they mean 24-hour-days though they leave this unstated). This is third on their list, before a belief in Jesus as Savior, though perhaps I'm reading too much into the order of their presentation. Then again, it's not clear they believe that Jesus is God, only that he was begotten of God.

Anyway, we would appreciate a few prayers in support of our church search, though I am concluding we have little chance of finding something appropriate in this part of the world. My son has had much better fortune in finding a church [outside the U.S., in a developing nation].

I had hoped to recapture the feeling of looking forward all week to going to church rather than marching myself there out of a sense of duty toward my children and grandchildren. I no longer have this expectation. Now I'm just hoping we can find a church that teaches the Bible and does not have an obnoxious Sunday service after which many in the congregation stand around complaining about the noise or on better days giving thanks that this week they left out the drummer (as we did indeed rejoice about this past Sunday).

And I do not think this is a matter of seeking a pleasant experience according to my personal tastes, though it is about avoiding an unpleasant experience as church has become around here. 

I get challenged by some who question my belief that there are rules for worship. But surely not everything goes. If it did I would argue that we should gather together on Sunday morning and have a beer for Jesus. From what I'm reading in "Drinking with Luther and Calvin", the two reformers both thought (as do I) that beer and wine are gifts from God to be enjoyed freely. They wrote that enjoying strong drink was a form of expressing thanks for his Providence.

If smoke machines are OK, then why not flame machines? And how about that snake handling stuff, now that's really cool and its even in the Bible. And why shouldn't the girls and boys sit thigh to thigh on the same chair in the sanctuary on Sunday morning given that God made them to be attracted to each other and to appreciate each other's beauty? Or why not just turn Sunday morning into a men's pancake breakfast?

So I do conclude there are rules for Sunday morning corporate worship. And I do think that introducing elements into the service that will divide the body of Christ cannot be a good thing despite the fact that Rick Warren himself says its OK and just has to be accepted.


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