Thursday, December 23, 2010

What about church? (1)

I'm not so much thinking about looking for a church as thinking about what I'd be looking for if I was looking for a church. With a new year nearly upon us, perhaps it's a good time to consider these matters a little more intentionally.

Not that I'm about to go bouncing around from Sunday to Sunday in search of "the right fit." And neither am I holding out for perfection. I know there's an element in the Christian world that holds that not having a church--or, as they are just as likely to say, a church family--is a kind of crisis. Probably I'm just being selfish, or harboring sin, or who knows what, but it can't be good.

Going to church, in other words, is for these folks a key measure of spiritual health.

Well, maybe. Then again, maybe not. But anyway, although I'm pretty happy hanging out at home these Sunday mornings, I'm still liking the idea of church. It's a good New Testament idea, after all.

So I return to the original question: if I was looking for a church, what would I be looking for? In future posts I'm going to attempt to tease out a few answers to this question. So consider this the first in a series. In the meantime, here's Mark Driscoll preaching about something I intend to avoid like the plague: religion!

Heh. "We're all jacked up, Jesus. Can you help?"


Spherical said...

I understand your frustration with church. I could tell horror stories of abuse. We have recently switched, and the stories will probably continue, from al indications. But I will be different. I will share my faith and beliefs with those there, including a preacher who preaches a form of religion that sometimes makes me angry.

Why are we there? We really believe it is where God wants us for now. How long will we stay? Don't know. But I do know that those who are there will not hear the Gospel if those who have it don't share it.

Bob said...

That's a fairly remarkable story. I thank you for being a Gospel-bearer in such a place, and I'm certainly glad that God has called you to that. It's a perspective I'm going to have to take into consideration, clearly. Thanks for sharing that with me.

Anonymous said...

i will want to read whatever you have to say.

thanks for your comments and friendship.

speculator said...

this preacher is hard to watch, with all his gesticulating- so I scrolled the screen back up- to realize he'd continuing a very old legacy of medieval iconoclasm.

extremism is always something to be suspect of- whether it's fundamentalism, ritualistic perfectionism, or belligerent self-righteousness.
there can be profound meaning and eloquence in ancient observance; just ask any of your Jewish or Chinese friends, for example.
speaking for myself, i'm very grateful for what's been handed down to me; it makes me look askance at superficiality.

don't worry- or feel guilty- about not attending a church; your sabbatical has to run its course.
enjoy life, celebrate God, wherever you are!

Bob said...

Thanks, Speculator! I get finding Driscoll difficult to listen to, but I think he makes some strong points. I don't think he was condemning liturgy or ancient practices here. Really it comes down to legalism, the bane of the church from Paul's time to this.

And just to be clear, I'm not feeling guilty, just jonesin' for a Spirit-formed community!

Peace, brotha!

speculator said...

"And just to be clear, I'm not feeling guilty, just jonesin' for a Spirit-formed community!"

All right, then, let's set about it!
I'm in, brother!

Lois said...

While it is true that we can come to Christ with nothing in our hand, once we have received salvation by grace, we are called to a life of sanctification. WE are called to a life set apart for Christ. We are called to set aside the 'sin' and press onward. I get the sense from Driscoll that what you 'do' is not important. For salvation, yes- but for a life that is truly changed, there are things we cannot do. There is such a thing as sin. Part of what is wrong with what is coming from our pulpits today is a lack of preaching and teaching that 'how' we live matters. The disconnect between being 'saved' and the living that out in our lives is so great. WE should be teaching that once we come to Christ we are to 'put off' the old. We are to say 'hmm...maybe I shouldn't be smoking, drinking, sleeping around, being so judgemental'. OUr lives SHOULD be different if we are Christains. Don't say you are a Christian if there is not a change in behavior. That's what happens to a life saved by grace! But in an age of 'grace' no one wants to call people to account-that is just wrong and sad to say does a great diservice to the body of Christ. It's all about , grace, grace, grace. Yes and no, it's about a life saved by grace and then walking that out in truth.

And as far as the church thing goes-the church is for believers. We get together to praise and give worship and glory to God. It is not about the world. WHen a life is changed by the gospel they then join the family and worhsip and praise with us. No one is excluded. Come just as you are and you will find rest. But keep in mind it is first and foremost about God.

...and thus ends my epistle for today.


Bob said...

And a fine epistle it is, Lois. But I don't get the sense from Driscoll that you do. I do agree with everything you say though, as long as it is kept in mind that the "walking out" is by abiding in grace, and not the cajoling of pastors/coaches. By grace saved, by grace sanctified. The message of grace received is what transforms lives. In fact, this is not so much an age of grace (judging by our best-selling books and star-preachers), but an age of pep-talks and insistent cajoling.