Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thoughts (and second thoughts) on church-going

Well, here it is August already and I'm thinking about the end of summer. There was a chill in the air a couple of mornings back, and I've noticed that the rising sun is moving a little northward each day--right on schedule. This has been the summer we didn't go to church. That wasn't exactly a carefully considered decision, just something that sort of fell into place for us. In a related development (as they say), it was also the summer that I ran out of things to say about church, the Bible, faith, etc.

So be it. But now as the summer dwindles I'm beginning to think about church again. I believe in church, in the local church. That is, I believe that the local church is a significant part of the incarnational strategy--shall we say--of Jesus Christ. That's what Paul thought, clearly, and I'm not in a position to argue. So to shy away from the Sunday morning shindig for a season, as I have done, is quite possibly a testy thing to do. But for me it has been necessary, I think.

But now I'm considering the future. I do want to dip my toes in the church pool again. I've thought about different nearby churches, but the few significant relationships with believers that I enjoy cluster in the Vineyard church I attended for a decade or so. My wife, whose feelings about church are just as mixed as mine, would probably prefer that choice.

But then there are second thoughts. Ah, yes, the second thoughts. Sunday morning at that church can seem like one part worship of the Almighty, and one part PR campaign. That's definitely an off-kilter ratio. There were times I felt just the same after walking out of a church service there as I do after sitting through an infomercial for some get-rich scheme or life-changing vacuum cleaner or something. Targeted, marketed to, sloganed-at.

There are other possibilities of course. Just as Laurie might lean toward the Vineyard (although with the same reservations as mine), I'd lean to the Acts 29 church in our town. Maybe. But then come the confounded second thoughts. Sheesh.

I've said before that I want to hold onto my relationships with fellow-believers with a firm grip, but keep a loose hold on the Sunday morning business. This means, among other things, we won't be becoming members of any church. When the leadership says, this is how we measure commitment, I'll say, measure away. It's fine with me if you don't think I measure up. I'm using a completely different yardstick.

I know many Christians who don't get this attitude, and indeed find is terribly unbiblical. I can live with that. As I told a friend recently, "I'm never going to be any pastor's idea of a model church-member."

My point is, I'd like to be in on the worship, on the mutual prayer and edification, on the building of relationships that include loving sacrifice on behalf of one another, but leave me off the call-list for the next big campaign or program. Yes, indeed, I do lack commitment.

Now, the way I imagine keeping a "loose grip" is simply by eschewing church bandwagons, avoiding the herd mentality, and occasionally mixing in a visit to other churches . . . and also regularly taking Sundays off from the whole shebang. And by the way, unity does not rhyme with herd.

So there they are: thoughts, second thoughts, etc. Methinks the time has come to pray about it.


Anonymous said...

very interesting thoughts and second thoughts.
thank your for sharing them.


Milton Stanley said...

Bob, I'm praying for you and Laurie. Peace.

Steve Scott said...


I'm in a similar place on a number of things you mentioned, including a summer not at "church." I don't know what the next step will be, but whatever it is, I don't expect it to be easy. I hope you find something that works out. Peace.