Once again I am wandering around in the WWC (Wide World of Church). Frustrated & guilt laden, I am in the wilderness roaming --looking in doors-seeking an oasis of church community--and left with no answer of how to find it. Not taking this lightly, I am on a quest for answers of where He wants me to be planted.
It seems you have two choices in the world of church, the huge mega church (my last stopping off point) or the small church where everyone knows your name. My observation about the mega church is it can resemble attending a Broadway production or a rock concert. You walk in the worship center and are blown away at all the bells and whistles--from an orchestra to a rock band--to a laser light show--to fog machines--from choirs the size of a short battalion to worship teams with the talent to be on American Idol. The church I was attending had a God ordained pastor who delivered God's word every week and left me walking away inspired, motivated, and knowing God was using Him to communicate His word to me. I grew up in a small church--attended another one as an adult for over 25 years. Everyone knew everyone and there was a great feeling of community, but the choir (which I was part of) though full of sweet and some really talented people was closer to the one in Andy Griffith's church and far short of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The pastors were great men of God who were stretched thin trying to manage the business affairs of the church, pastor the flock, attend all the committee meetings, and teach twice on Sunday.
Having thought this over, there is nothing wrong with the bells and whistles of the mega church--if you are still able to worship and remember the reason you are there. Would we not want to use our very best and all the finest during our time of worship? And the small church, the challenge may well be keeping the distraction of personalities from interfering with our reason for being there. Something tells me if I am sitting in worship thinking about the person across the aisle who did not agree with me in committee meeting, I might as well have stayed home.
SO--what should church look like? In the Old Testament, God drew up the plan of a magnificent synagogue. In the synagogue, the priest approached God for you. Offerings for sin atonement, thanksgiving, celebration were all presented by the priest, for man had no right to approach a Holy God. All this changed with the New Testament. With Jesus offering the final and complete sacrifice, the curtain was torn and we were allowed to approach God ourselves. No longer was the priest required, but now Jesus became our intercessor. The New Testament church met in homes--perhaps for security reasons, but there was church. So the Bible contains both the mega church and the small body of believers.
I know we are charged to assemble together. I know Paul's letters were written to churches. The benefits of community are endless, my challenge has been how to establish my community. For almost ten years, I was blessed to be part of a community group which closely resembled what church probably should look like, so I have seen the promised land. Since arriving in Fort Worth, I have struggled with how to attain the same. I joined a small group and it was a great small group, but in the mega church those 12 people were the only people I knew beyond a very casual basis. I walked in church Sunday after Sunday lost in a crowd of 2,000 and left many times with not one word spoken to me beyond the greeters hello at the door. In fairness, I am certain many others who sat around me probably feel the same way. It is the feeling of being a small island among a chain of islands in a vast ocean. I tried a small church here recently and came away with the feeling I had attended the wrong family reunion.
Here is my conclusion, I need church--God desires me to be in church. Church is filled with all of us fallen people who fail each other over and over, and yet love each other. I cannot expect others who struggle just as I do to fulfill my needs-I have to look to God for direction and take the next step. My choice is the mega church with the gifted pastor and impressive worship team and the feeling of anonymity beyond the small group or the small church which will take time (how much time do I have) to establish community. There is no question though I need to establish community--I want-desire to be hand in hand with those who love the Lord.
I do not have an answer--beyond God wants me in community. There is more to come in another post--walking in church alone. For today, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and even lambasting--iron sharpens iron and we can learn from each other. In the meantime, I remember why I am in church--to worship a mighty God and for the community who serve to encourage me as we seek the goal together.
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.