Monday, April 20, 2015

SITTING IN THE PEW

If your toes have a tendency to be tender, please be warned you may need to lift them or take them to another blog--these words are MY thoughts and not gospel!  If you are happy with your church, please read another day, for I fear you will not understand where I am coming from and I am delighted you are planted where you can bloom.




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.
Hebrews 10:25

10 comments:

  1. Well, my dear blogger, if you are waiting for the church that draws you, builds you, ministers to you, gives you feeling of First Church Community, then "hell might just freeze over" before that happens. I feel very similar, in that "no church makes me feel like I want to feel in church"... Do you sit in the corner waiting for someone else to approach you? Well the second part of that is A. do I go unprepared, that is not prayed up and or expectant, B. I do not give off first church aroma, C. I do not penetrate that block that nobody wants to go first. So this is what you do, you go there to build up, you go there to minister, you go prepared and Prayed up, you penetrate that block of "nobody wants to go first" and don't sit in the corner waiting for the regular folks to look you up and if you are supposed to be in that church God will allow you in to do His bidding. You are the church.... don't forget that point. Prayers are being lifting up, now you must make the move...

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    1. LOVE that you let me have it! A. I do not sit in the corner and have attempted to start MANY conversations and yest asking God to prepare my heart. I assume the fact I always come away with something means He is honoring this. B.I am not sure about my aroma--- C. I do go first. At this moment--until God directs differently, I am going in the spirit of being there to worship and praying about how to establish my community beyond those walls. Quite frankly I have made more friends at the Y! Thanks for prayers and advice. I will prayerfully consider all you have said.

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  2. What an exceptional post, Lulu. Your observations are so spot on!

    As a lifetime church goer, I'm long past expecting to find that perfect church. I've been to those great big churches and the regular size places, and have been worshiping in a house church for the last 7 years {that I helped begin}. No place is perfect. Especially when I'm in it.

    But life hands us different, sometimes unexpected seasons. And yes, we might be needing to be in a new church family. And that's ok. Let's hear it for lots more grace for ourselves as we figure out what God is calling is to right now. And keep pounding on heaven's door til He shows us where He wants us to be.

    Grace and peace to you, friend ...

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    1. I knew you were in a house church, Linda, and would love to try one--if I could find it here in Fort Worth. Yes, the problem is church is made up of we who are far from perfect--including me! I am looking---my daughter and dear friend are being used by God as Heaven's Hounds--reminding me where I need to be every Sabbath!

      Blessings, Friend!

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  3. Very timely post Lulu. Very timely. As I shall explain.

    But first some advice: Do not come to our church here. Two reasons: First it is too far away from where you live and it will cost you a lot in travel fares every Sunday. Also being Catholic we tend to do a lot of what we're good at - taking two collections on Sundays. The advantage of our church is that I'd get to meet you and we can go for a coffee afterwards.

    The reason your post is timely is because we've just had a survey done at our church. Result: Not very welcoming, not friendly, everyone keeps to himself, not enough community spirit, sermons too long (I can vouch for that because the benches numb my derriere - and should I close my eyes to concentrate I get a sharp elbow in the side).

    The thing is, as one priest once said in a sermon: Why do we go to church? Answer: To meet God and to better ourselves.

    Not for the music, the choir, the sermons, the coffee meetings afterwards, the parking facilities, or even watching young ladies in short skirts (I get another elbow in the side for that too).

    The reality Lulu is we go to church to meet God; just like when we visit a friend or relative we like. God likes that, and He rewards us for taking the time to visit Him as part of a family of believers. Of course, He is everywhere. In our homes, at work and so on. But going to church is special.

    My advice is to continue to go to a different church or different denomination every week. Make yourself known to the priest, vicar, minister, pastor or whatever the chap at the front calls himself. Sooner or later you will find a place where GOD WANTS YOU TO BE. Because being there, might not help you directly, but your presence may well be of great benefit to someone else. What a priviledge to be serving God that way!

    And should you go to a Catholic church, take extra coins with you.

    God bless.



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    1. AH, Victor. Excellent advice! I went to one church which did not pass the plate---GASP! They had offering boxes at the back of the church. I go to church to worship God in community with other believers. My best worship experiences have been on mountain tops and at the beach--often alone. I also need community to stand shoulder to shoulder with me, correct me when I stray, teach me when I am wrong, and love me in spite of my faults. The church part--is not the problem--it's the community I need. As always, I treasure your wisdom and your wit. Perhaps you will look up one day and I will be at your church---I will NOT have on a short skirt. NOT attractive on older women!
      Blessings!

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  4. Hi Lulu, I completely relate to this. We left a church we loved in Charlotte six months ago when we moved to Northern CA. Not only that, but we left the bible belt; churches are very different in CA. We originally came from a church of 75-100 people in Charleston, SC and loved it. It was home. When we moved to Charlotte, there were mega churches. Our pastor from Charleston told us not to be afraid of the mega churches; in the end, they are filled with people trying to connect with God. Our church in NC had about 5-6000 people. Now there is about 10,000 members at our church here in CA.

    In order to make the mega church smaller, volunteer as soon as you can. That mega church will begin to feel like a very small community to you and everyone will know your name. This happened for us. The best part about it is this: you not only help calm your fears, as a volunteer, you help speak to others and connect with them so they don't feel lost in such a big church. This turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my life. Same goes for my husband. We had been praying for Christian friends in a new town. God answered our prayers through this service of volunteering.

    Don't be afraid, jump in.

    Did you say you were near Ft. Worth? I'm going to be near there the end of next month with my husband. Would love to do a meet up if you want.

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    1. Yes, I live in Fort Worth--literally on the edge of downtown. Would love to meet you. Let me know when and we will work something out. My email address is at the top of the blog on the right.

      I am volunteering and have been for almost 2 years. The problem is what I love to do---work in the schools--does not lend itself to meeting many others. We pass in the hall--literally--and have short snippets of conversation. I also volunteer in a local mission--tutoring---same thing there. SO perhaps I need to rethink my efforts. THANK YOU for your suggestions!

      Blessings!

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  5. Oh boy....have you hit a nerve (well...no... not really). I completely understand what your saying, and what all your other commenters have said!!! As you know, we moved up here to the great north 23 months ago, we are Southern Baptist, use to the truth, use to the gospel being spoken. We have belonged to mega churches and small ones. None really have seem to fit our needs, one of us had a issue, the other had issues, the other had an issue....sounds like excuses, right? ANYWAYS--back to what I was saying, we tried a Baptist church a block away, oh boy...way to liberal for us (that my friend, if you need an explanation, than send an email, wink.), then we started attending one near the college. You know, things are just different here, I guess. It seems to me, jmo, of course, people here just don't take the whole going to church or hearing the gospel spoken the same way we have always been taught. Plus, each of us just don't or for whatever reason, can not commit. So, since my husband is a chaplain, we have been holding church here at home. No, it is not the same, but, for now....it will do.

    Great advice from Victor! Ok, all the comments have been wonderful and great. Great post--truly it is. Blessings

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    1. I l ike you have loved all the comments and discussion. It seems to be something many of us think about. My daughter lived in PA for 4 years during Dr SIL's medical school days. Yes, it was different, but she did find a church which pretty much lined up with their thinking--it was a pretty good drive. She then formed a small group from other med school wives which gave her community. It is a work in progress, but I am encouraged He is having us talk this out.
      Blessings, Friend!
      PS---What joy to have a Godly man by your side!

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Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!