Sunday, March 25, 2007

Churches Alive and Dead

My wife and I have been visiting new churches lately. In fact, we've become quite regular attenders at one of them, and we don't even have to miss our current church! The new Church meets Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night!

Why are we visiting new churches? It's very simple, we are tired of contributing effort to ours to just watch it waste away.

For instance, I started an Alpha course at our Church. It went well, but there was NO ONE who would help. I had ONE consistent helper. It frittered off because I didn't have anyone who could help me, and got tired of doing all the work myself.

A lot of other ministries in our church are like that -- no one will help out. We have a tough, tough time coming together and doing something great.

And, worship is terrible. Now, I do like contemporary worship. I like crunchy guitars and loud drums. That is what gets me in a worshipful spirit. But even with the old hymns - they don't have to sound like dirges.

I understand that a lot of people have very busy lives, for which Church is the one stable element. I understand that for Church to be changing, it means that these people who are often having frustrating lives as it is have to have one more frustration in their life. But here's the question - are people meeting God at Church.

So I've been going to a church on Sunday nights that offers a lot of what our church is presently missing. And that's not to say that the new church doesn't have its own problems. But it's like the parable of the talents. One group is _using_ it to make back an investment, and the other church is simply burying it in the sand.

Here's the sad part. My home church has so much more possibilities than the new church that I'm going to. They are just so stuck in the status quo that they can't see their way out. My home church could do everything even better than my new church. They have fantastic worship leaders, in fact every aspect of church life there is someone talented beyond measure within the Church.

So what's holding us back? There are several issues, but I think that it boils down to (a) leadership, (b) having the whole congregation willing to help out, (c) focus [which comes back to leadership], and (d) willingness to change. The talented folks are spread too thin on too many projects. The projects which are visionary are not planned into the way the church as a whole operates.

And so we run in circles. And die.

You can make up for a lack of talent with proper vision. You can't make up for a lack of vision and will.


At 3/26/2007 2:16 AM, Blogger ThoughtfulMom said...

I'm with you, honey. Both churches are craziness - in opposite directions. The home church is too stubborn to follow would-be leaders and to lazy to get a job done. The new church is too focused on flashy-ness for fulltime use (i.e. blinding me with the strobbing lights during worship and trying to induce seizures in epileptics? Just not necessary for or conducive to worship).

You know, we haven't ever found the perfect church for us. It may not exist. It seems like most of them teach 90 miles wide and six inches deep - the new church teaches at least three feet deep, but is isolating - not requiring connection with others. Sunday school at the home church is good - six feet deep and a good small group setting - just no social interaction.

I can't tell you how tempting I find the new Vineyard start-up in our neighborhood - another chance that it will be shallow like the last one, but maybe...just maybe....

At 4/09/2007 9:10 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Just found your blog - don't know if you've been getting much encouragement on it, but I think it's a great idea, and look forward to reading more of the posts. Keep it up!

At 4/10/2007 3:14 PM, Blogger John said...

When my wife and I moved to Orlando for seminary, I selected three churches to visit. They were the three closest United Methodist congregations. We visted each one on successive Sundays, and then she chose which one of the three we should go to.

It's not the healthiest church, but we've stuck with it. Nor do we feel particularly spiritually fed. But that's good training: the churches that I am appointed to will likely be older congregations struggling to adapt to the 21st Century.

At 9/27/2007 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am definitely on board with your recitation of what you observe in the two churches. I think you can expand this regionally and nationally and see a trend in mainstream churches. The method of delivery of the message of Jesus needs to evolve (now there is a term!).

I am wrestling with my call while in seminary to determine how I can plug into this trend and maximize my impact in winning people to Jesus and reaching within our communities to those that are growing more and more lost or jaded with what is available.


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