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Thursday, May 10, 2007

church....

Yes another conversation about church, another question about it. It just seems that there are sooo many flaws in churches. I know we need to go, I know what the bible says about it, about worshiping together, and coming together, I recognize the importance, and I feel that is where my frustration lies.
I did not grow up going to church. I went a few times on holidays with my grandparents, but I never experienced church, and church family until I married my husband. I know it exists. I know that a group of imperfect people can meet together as the body of Christ, and be the body of Christ. I know that they treat each other as family, and still do to us living far away from them. I know the pastor lived out what he preached, and was a great husband, dad, son, and friend. He was easy to respect and to learn from. I know it's possible, but why is it so hard to find again?
We have gone to a few different churches since moving away from our home church, and have not found that closeness, nor realness.
The first church we went to was huge, and I made friends there through the mothers bible study I was doing. We were there for a year, and they took away the mothers study, and limited child care so most of us stopped going to that, then most moved to different churches. We never met the pastor personally, but did think he taught well. Church was entertaining, and the kids had plenty to do, but it felt lacking. Many Sundays I sat completely alone.
The second church, was a church plant. That fell apart quickly as the true character of the pastor was revealed. Couple by couple people are leaving that church, and I don't believe it will last long unless some major humbling happens, and priorities get shifted.
All that to say, I am scared of church now. I am leery that there isn't a place for the people that don't easily look and act the part of a nice "churchy" person. I don't feel like you can be very real in most churches, and I think that is because people don't take the aspect of church family seriously. Sometimes people have things going on in their lives that require comfort, encouragement, praise, congratulations from other believers, and most don't seem to want to hear that on Sunday mornings. They want the response to "How are you?" to be "Fine, thank you." so they can move onto the sermon, and get out of there. The problem is, is that if you aren't sharing aspects of your life with those that are close to you, then you don't grow in relationship with them, and you aren't recieving what God intended for you to recieve. You can't be comforted, encouraged, congratulated by God if you aren't allowing anyone into that portion of your life, and you can't be the hands and feet of God if you have no idea what is going on in others lives.
That is my rant.....

What are your church experiences? (some encouragement please...)

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15 Comments:

Blogger Steven M. Russell said...

I wish I had the magic answer that somehow made you feel better. All I can guess is that we (as humans) think we are in charge of running the church and have seriously messed the whole thing up.

So many places are worried about getting butts in seats (which is important) and paying off their new building, rather than being the community of believers God calls us to be.

There is probably a "church" out there for you. You just might not have stumbled across it yet.

8:51 AM

 
Anonymous Kat said...

Kristin,
Be encouraged! Though hard to find, there are great churches out there. My husband and I moved 300 miles and faced the possibility of having to find new jobs (just as our first child was due to be born) JUST to live in Waco to attend our church.

I actually plan to write a series about why I love my church (not that it's perfect, but it is the perfect fit for me). There does seem to be so much discouragement about church out there and I hope to just shine a little light with my experience.

Here are a few reasons why I love my church:
1. The leaders are humble. We've been in the spotlight for various reasons over the years and faced some pretty difficult circumstances and opposition, but our pastors have always responded with humility - Submitting criticism before the Lord and listening to see if there is any truth in it that can help them/us grow.

The senior pastor makes the same amount of money as the facility maintenance man. The staff salary is dependent on how big your family is, not the perceived importance of your job.

2. Our church acts. My church has about 1800-2000 members and at our annual volunteer banquet last Friday, there were over 500 people there. There was another college volunteer banquet with several hundred people.

We have almost 300 missionaries in countries all over the world. These aren't folks that we have heard of and support, these are people I grew up with who felt God wanted them to leave there jobs, be trained as missionaries and reach the nations.

I think the main thing that makes our church work is that so many people have the vision. Our motto or purpose statement is "A Passion for Jesus and His Purposes in the Earth" and so many people are serious about loving Jesus and laying their lives down for other people and serving in His name.

We have small groups that are the core of the church. While they're not perfect (we lead one and we've found it's really hard to do small home bible studies with toddlers) they have created a wonderful sense of community. There was one group last year that had a couple in it in their late 20's who really had a desire to be missionaries. They'd done the training and wanted to go, but (if I understand correctly) our church requires that our folks be debt free before we send them out. This couple had about $20,000 in college debt (thank you Baylor). Their small group (made up of about 12-16 20 and 30 low - middle income somethings) gathered their resources and PAID OFF that couples' debt. Isn't that insane? Obviously, that doesn't happen everyday, but I think it's a wonderful testimony of the community of our church and the fact that even those who aren't missionaries by vocation, are invested in the lives of others who do call themselves missionaries.

I have a lot more to write and tons of great stories to tell, but I won't take over your blog. I'll go write some posts for next week.

I hope that encourages you a bit. I know my church doesn't have the monopoly on being stinkin' awesome, so I'm sure there are several great places in Nashville as well.

2:47 PM

 
Blogger urban mama said...

sorry i do not have encouragment but i am right there with you.

3:19 PM

 
Blogger kddub said...

Steven~ I agree with you, about both things, us being imperfect humans and messing up church, and the focus being getting people in the door or seats and then not thinking through the whats next.
I feel like there is so much fake-ness as well.

Kat~ your church sounds great, and sounds like it should be an example to other churches out there. It's encouraging to hear that there are those churches out there. I think so much has to do with leadership. Obviously the people there make up so much of it, but good, humble leaders are what I feel shape the church. Your example of people stepping up and paying that couples debt off is amazing, that is a great example of community, and recognizing that these people were being called to do Gods work in the mission field.
Thank you for your insightful comment, I look forward to reading more on your blog.

Jessie~ I am sorry you are in the same place as us, it's hard.

8:27 PM

 
Blogger Just Mom said...

I don't really have much more to add. My church experience, thankfully, has been fantastic. We are Catholic, and there's only one Catholic church in the small community in which we live.

We have been blessed with caring people in church leadership positions (including our pastor), who constantly encourage people from our membership to read the liturgy, sing in the choir, and serve as Eucharistic ministers, among other things. Although some members, like in other churches, prefer not to get in to deep conversations after mass, most are very friendly.

I hope you and your family find what you're looking for. Have faith that the right church for you is out there.

7:39 PM

 
Blogger *The Blogstar said...

I enjoyed reading your post.

From my perspective it seems like you are asking some great questions. Personally I don't many answers (and I'm on a church staff).

I am not a fan of talking about what we all see as the church. If we can't be the "church" outside of the walls of a building a gathering inside a building seems to be just another form or club.

We must give to the community (whatever that looks like)... by giving of ourselves (time, food, money, roof, ear, etc...) life happens. That should happen inside and outside of the typical church setting.

I'll stop before I really start rambling. :)

Peace

C

9:09 PM

 
Blogger The Booters said...

Sadly, i am right there with you. Our old church was perfect. there was nothing about i would have changed i loved every single thing about it. I miss it.

9:14 PM

 
Blogger kddub said...

just mom~ I am glad for you and encouraged that it exists out there. Finding the right fit is key I guess.

blogstar~ yes, I totally agree that "church" is not just inside of a building. We have church experiences within our community of friends and neighbors, and it is awesome. I just have gotten frustrated that I haven't seen it as much within the walls of the church setting. Just Sunday mornings isn't enough time to be community, yet I feel it's important to make the most of those moments so people don't feel alienated somehow. (again most of my angst coming from my last church experience where fakeness was the theme and the focus was set on people as a number)
Feel free to ramble, I am wanting perspective on all this...
Thanks for stopping by here!

Booters~ you know Im wondering if part of it is just that it takes awhile to get "plugged in" somewhere?

9:27 PM

 
Blogger Grace said...

Sorry Kristin, I can't help. :( We're having problems finding the right church for us. Right now, we drive about 25 minutes to my parents’ church, but I'm still looking for one that fits my family. However, we are moving in a few months and hopefully we'll find our church.

10:47 PM

 
Blogger FancyPants said...

So many of us, our generation in particular, struggle with this whole church idea. What I hear you saying is you don't feel known when you walk into that building. I relate to that. I've questioned whether it's my personality....I don't know.

I have to say, maybe the local church we attend should be about location, attending the meeting that occurs in closest proximity. Everyone gets to choose their criteria these days for church, so people attend for their own personal reasons. So we all have different agendas, focused on ourselves. Like the more choices we have, the more depressing it gets. We choose based on our wants, not out of necessity, not out of the needs of others or the needs of just coming together, sharing the unity of Christ.

I know this sounds out there, but it's just a thought. Probably a very ideal one at that. But for what it's worth, even though I struggle with the same issues you do, there are moments in corporate worship when I feel a unique sense of love for and sense of belonging to the body of Christ. Something very different, of the Spirit. It's worth the being together.

2:53 AM

 
Blogger kddub said...

I agree with it's importance and the belonging sense we can feel just being with other believers.
My thought is, though, that it's not just a focus on ourselves, though it may seem that way. It's about the verse I posted above. If we are loving one another, and have a close community, that is attractive to un believers and new believers, where they, (and we) feel welcome, loved and belonging, then we are attracting them to Christ.
I believe that God works through people continuously, and we need one another in a huge way.
I guess my perspective is a little different on the choosing the church out of necessity instead of wants. I don't necessarily agree with that, however I can see your point. I can see that if we didn't have more choices in churches than we wouldn't know any different and just be satisfied with what we had. (is that what you meant?)
I agree that we'd be satisfied, but I don't feel that is the best place to be. because I believe that is a way for many to get stuck in a rut, and not change, nor improve.

I'll stop for now, because I guess I'm not totally sure I knew what you meant. =)

7:32 AM

 
Blogger FancyPants said...

Sorry for not being clear.

I meant, that the need for community should be a necessity. But we've given ourselves so many choices that attending church becomes about ourselves insead of the community.

I think we're actually agreeing.

I'm just saying that I wonder if the loving of each other would work better if we didn't concern ourselves so much with the criteria of church. Does that make sense? We would be there for the sake of the community of believers, for the sake of others.

But let me reiterate how ideal this would be. And it's really just brainstorming a possible reason why things are the way they are.

But I completely agree with what you're saying and the verse explains everything.

I do think we can apply that verse to our daily lives, not just to the weekly gathering or meeting.

Is this more clear?

5:44 PM

 
Blogger kddub said...

yeah I agree with that. And I totally have to keep myself in check as well, with what you said about being there for the community of believers over myself.

I also agree with what you are saying, about brainstorming ideas for why things are the way they are. I agree that it may be mostly our generation that is feeling dissatisfied, and I feel that is the begging of change.

8:12 PM

 
Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

Just a few thoughts here, from someone a little bit older than "your generation" (but not much older)...

I think all the questioning about church and community and the whole purpose of it is very healthy, and I'm glad to see it happening. It seems to me (speaking as somebody whose parents grew up in the golden age of the old church model), that very fundamental things about society, community, and communication have changed radically, in the last generation or two.

So rather than looking at it as "the way people used to do church was wrong, and not the way that God can best reach people", perhaps it's just a matter of "when people related to one another in a certain way like they did in previous generations, then the old model of church really did work well for them, and the Lord really did move among people through that method".

So rather than getting hung up on the idea that there is a "right" and "wrong" way, or a specific format that is "most like the early New Testament Church", or whatever, it might be a matter of the Holy Spirit moves among people who seek the Lord in spirit and truth, so the form that a community of believers takes on will naturally need to change from age to age.

What we're doing here -- participating in a "community" of believers online and discussing this stuff, is a perfectly valid and very useful means of communication. It's been my experience that it even makes meeting in person a little awkward sometimes, in the sense that you feel like you already know somebody pretty well from their online communication, and have discussed many deep things over time, and when you meet in person, quickly run out of words and get awkward-feeling. (Uh, sorry, that was sort of an odd rabbit trail...)

But my point is, people growing up today do not respond to the same type of environment. They've seen all the movies making fun of slick-haired televangelists, and seen all the scandals and stuff, and questioned the realness of it. So they are saying they want something more real and tangible, and want to find out what the words in the Bible really look like lived out by regular people. Which as I said above, is a very good and healthy thing -- because the Lord has made it clear that He desires and rewards a heart that is truly seeking after Him, and not just putting on a show or settling for "this is the way we've always done it".

10:23 PM

 
Blogger kddub said...

I was just thinking that same thing when fancy said that about it being a generational thing. I feel like there's a lot of dissatisfaction now, because our generation is getting older, and desiring something different.

Like you said, not that the previous generations did anything wrong, it's just that change is good.

6:53 AM

 

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