Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hungering and Thirsting like the rest

After listening to me vent yesterday my husband's eyes got big, and he said, "You need to find a different church." Not we, but you, I noticed. So that's not going to happen. We went through this in 1976 and it was traumatic. Just awful. It was like getting a divorce from all our friends. And now we're 30 years older. You don't throw that away for a temper tantrum.

So in the afternoon I took myself to a coffee shop with my little notebook, and with an extra jolt of caffiene, I made notes on what I wanted in a church. What would I be looking for if I moved to a different community?

The big one for me: Worship.
1) A sermon for believers that includes the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our hope. Something to keep us from navel gazing for a week. Something that says this isn't about you. It doesn't have to be the whole topic, it doesn't have to have an altar call, but the pastor has to let me know why we have gathered for worship.
2) Music--not rock 'n roll, happy clappy, or praise choruses. Not song leaders hugging microphones with closed eyes and thrusting pelvis. Not "me, me, me" songs. Something from a hymnbook so I don't lose my skills for reading music.
3) Liturgy--it would be nice to have the liturgy every Sunday, not just occasionally. I wouldn't look for this in a Methodist or Presbyterian church, but yes, I would if I were visiting a Lutheran church.

The next big item: Teaching, Solid and Biblical.
1) Can be Sunday school or small group. Would really be nice if led by a pastor, but a good lay leader will do. Mid-week opportunities.
2) Strong women's fellowship. Or is that women's strong fellowship?

And to put faith to work: Service opportunities beyond the church walls.
1) Schools.
2) Prisons.
3) Food pantry/clothing sites.
4) Hospitals/nursing homes.

Sadly it is worship, my first priority, that often fails me here. Teaching and Service are top notch. The gospel from our pulpits (10 services) is so hidden or buried, that I make a check mark on the bulletin if I hear it! It has made me the most attentive person in the pew! How hard can it be to remind us each and every week why we have gathered? What would it take? Two or three sentences? That still leaves time for the personal anecdotes and theological word studies and the challenges to go out and do, do, do.

I'm afraid to bring a seeker to our services--what if she liked the building, or the music or the location or the friendly faces, and didn't notice Jesus hadn't been invited too? I'd hesitate to invite new neighbors who were believers and seeking a church home. What if they listened as carefully as I do and moved on?

"I love to tell the story,
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
'Twill be the old, old story,
That I have loved so long."
Katherine Hankey


HereISit said...

I really dislike loud music, any kind. I attended a wonderful concert/worship service this past weekend at a Lutheran College. The last piece of music was so loud that the inside of my ears started crackling. That can't be good for anybody, especially for the musicians who have to hear that at every practice.

You comments about the lack of gospel reminded me of church services way back when I attended a church college. I think that pastor was trying so hard to be "relevant" and trendy that we heard about the current movies, etc. but about Jesus, by name, only on parents visitation weekends.

crayons2000 said...

Traditional services with traditional music are my choice. Changing churchs is like a divorce. Those you left behind remember and remind you that you abandoned them when you run into them in the grocery or library especially if it was a neighborhood church.

It is difficult and sometimes impossible to have a strong women's group in a church setting where all the leaders are men. If we return to our Christian roots wasn't it the women who invited people into the hospitality of their humble homes to hear the word of Jesus?

Mary and Martha are used as good examples of women of their time and what did Jesus say about how he saw them as people not just women and thier roles?

When I joined the church I was asked to learn by memory the first and last verse of 32 songs from the hymnal. I actulay had to sing one song each week to minister of music to pass caticism. This was a pain at the time because I was a kid but it has become a real blessing for me as an adult.

Reading the words to "I Love to Tell the Story" in your blog put the tune into my head. I hope the tune and words stay all day.