Sunday, June 03, 2007

On the Topic of Church

Perhaps it is me. Actually, come to think of it, it most likely IS me. I enjoy pushing people's buttons, and seeing what comes out. Sometimes it is something you never expected to see, and sometimes it is something you hopes you never would see. Christians above all are fun to push outside of their comfort zones, because we design church all around others comfort zones.

You walk in the door, and there is usually someone there to greet you. They have a warm smile, and a ready handshake. But if you don't want to 'confront' the greeters, you don't have to. You can just as easily slip by them. There is a foyer area, with coffee urns ready to give you a free boost to make it through the pastor's sermon this week. When you enter the sanctuary, there are ushers there to give you a bulletin, and point you in the right direction.

You sit down, usually on a comfy pew (because those old, hard ones weren't comfortable), and are free to open your bulletin to inform anyone around you that you aren't too interested in talking. It will tell you what you can expect from the morning service, the latest goings on in the local hospital, and any events you may want to attend (or avoid) for that week.

Shortly thereafter, the music will start, cuing the herding of people into the sanctuary. They will quickly sit down, trying to be as polite in fighting for their normal spots as possible. If you happen to be sitting in 'their' spot, they will politely shuffle towards you, give you a polite smile, and then start polite small talk with you.

Then comes singing. You can expect songs like, "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High", "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "The Old Rugged Cross", "Shout to the Lord", "Shine, Jesus Shine" and other such songs. Don't worry if you don't know any of them, just close your eyes and think about your week. People will be impressed, I promise. You can point your eyes to the front also, where the words will be queued on a giant screen, with beautiful backgrounds. Be prepared, as some people may raise their heads, and if you're in a particularly lively service, people may sway back and forth in some semblance to the beat.

Ultimately, there will be a point in time when some man (most likely) will get up in front of the entire crowd. Everyone will come to a gentle hush, with the strange buzz of practised anticipation. And here's the main attraction, the show. You know what he'll do? Talk. And talk. And talk. Sometimes it'll even be interesting. Some will take notes, some will nod their heads in agreement (we think), and some will sleep. Since you're there, I'm sure you'll try to pay attention. You'll have wide open ears. But after six or seven minutes of listening to a monotone drone, your mind will start to wander. Thoughts of sunshine, dinner, swimming and the ocean will cross your mind. And then it'll snap back as you remind yourself that it's relevant, and important to your well-being.

And then you'll leave. Did it make a difference? Do you remember what it was he talked about? Will you tell anyone about it tomorrow?

Is this the church that Jesus envisioned? Is this really His body? Are we the vehicle to take His message to the nations? Somehow, in it's current iteration, I doubt it.

So what then? I don't know. But I hope you'll journey with me as I seek out that answer.

2 comments:

Andrew in Sydney, Australia said...

Hey Stephen...you have totally just struck something that has been on my heart a lot lately. I've been challenged with church here at Hillsong these past few months... I'm not saying that Hillsong is perfect (cuz it definitely isn't), but I honestly don't know how I'm gonna go back home to that church you quite vividly, and creepily described. It saddens me to see churches that are like that... but I honestly don't know what I can do. Anyways, keep up with what you'r doing... your awesome!!!!!

Stephen said...

My hope is that you'll go home and be the Body. That you, with what you have learned and experienced will set that standard by living out the principles of Christ through your life, and love those people around you without doubt or thought for yourself.

That you will be everything you want everyone else to be!