Saturday, November 25, 2006

Oh Give Me A Church...

"Laaaaate is the hour", as Grima Wormtounge once said in a deep English accent(for your LOTRingers out there). I'm sitting at the little "nook" in the kitchen, surrounded by the dark and writing on the girls' laptop. Mine's in the bedroom where Mrs. A is experiencing deep REM stage sleep right about now. Something I'll be back to doing momentarily, just after I rid my mind of this little conundrum.

For the life of me, I haven't decided where to settle into a "church home" with my family. We've pretty much pulled away from the Church of Christ congregation where we'd attended for the past 3.5 years, due to unresolved youth ministry issues and other things having to do with our incompatibilities. Sad in a sense, but we did manage to make a few good friends while attending there.

We've since attended services with another Church of Christ, the Baptists, the Hyper-Calvinists and have held home worship (which we all enjoyed). I even sat in with the local "Church Of England" when I was traveling out of town on a Wednesday evening. In a few short weeks, we've been privy to Predestination, procrastination, singing with musical instruments or without (note...a pitch pipe is still a musical instrument), communion every week or quarterly, preachers being called "pastor" or just "brother so and so". Women doing nothing at all in worship, except sitting there quietly...or not. Having a choir or only congregational singing, separate classes segregated by age or family integrated worship? Prayer books or extemporaneous prayer? Doctrine abounds.

What ever happened to meeting with the saints/sinners on Sunday morning for an actual "worship" time, where that's what we actually do. Just worship. You know, plain old singing, prayer, communion and scripture being read by different men (possibly within the framework of a weekly theme, but not shackled to that). The worship is the centerpiece and not the preaching. Those who desire sitting through a lectureship, may stay for such an event to be held after worship. Others who desire to study alone or with a smaller group or go and eat or rest or go about their lives, may leave and not be chastised for doing so. Why are we bound to evening services on Sunday and Wednesday, which in my opinion are there as a way to make us feel pious toward our brothers and sisters, who do not attend these "extra-credit" services. My work takes me away from my family at times and I have no desire to get in my car and drive to a building, only to be separated from them for another hour or 2 on Sunday and Wednesday evening. Nor should I or my family be held accountable for not holding to such a schedule.

Isn't "church", the collective body of matter where they meet? It's not a building, for the love of Pete. When I hear the term "the Lords house" my Catholic Radar goes into overload. It's one of those descriptions that sound holy but need some defining before being thrown around loosely.

In retrospect, some of us hold our doctrines/traditions a little too close to the idolatry. A doctrine or tradition may or may not be based in truth. And what is relevant or even true at one point in history, may not be relevant or true in current times. We need to realize that 2 roads from 2 different starting places can and do lead to the exact same destination. That is a truth. There are common laws that must be adhered to on both roads but both roads offer different scenery and a different experience than than the other. Some of us get the scenery that we experience on our journey, confused with the destination itself. We can even become convinced that our particular journey is the ONLY way to the destination. No others will do. This is a lie. For although there are common laws that apply to every journey, many roads can and do lead to the same destination.

More on "the journey" later. For now, the sandman has crept up behind me and daylight is fast approaching. I need a warm blanket and a bit of sleep. Good morning to you all.

-The Arkanblogger


Kayleigh said...


On the worship subject, I tend to agree with you. I feel that there is not enough worship time, and too much of a structured atmosphere. People tend to worry too much on "we need 3 songs here, then 10 minutes of this, then we have to have 20 minutes of preaching after it" Then everyone gets all bent out of shape when the cycle is messed up. Thats one reason why I love going on retreats and such, because that is when I finaly get to worship more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Worshiping is just so beautiful, and it shouldn't be restrained.

Oh and by the way I really enjoy your writings! There is always an interesting point.

<3 Kayleigh

Arkanblogger Family said...

wnHi Kayleigh-Thanks for your comments. For some reason, I either shoot for humor or go after something a little more serious in my posts. I try to offer a point of two when I write. I've thought that the elders at SHCofC and most Churches of Christ are possibly over-orderly about how the service is run. I appreciate order and believe that we serve a God that is pretty big on being orderly. I would just offer that it's important that we remember that we're there to worship God and not to worship being orderly. We can become so orderly that we're stale to God. Thanks to you and your mother for sharing your Thanksgiving with us. I hope the shopping was both fruitful and adventurous.

-The Arkanblogger AKA Bruce

Stephen Stallard said...

I have a couple of random thoughts about your church situation.

1. The biblical paradigm in Acts is centered around the preaching of the Word. Indeed, the OT paradigm in Ezra is identical. Responding to preaching is part of the worship. Now, I know as a preacher I am biased, but I like Rev. Homer Lindsey said: "We've don't have worship services, we have preaching services."

2. Where do you stand on the issue of salvation? You mentioned attending churches as vastly different as Church of Christ and Baptist. These churches (at least officially) believe in different ways of getting to heaven. So it seems to me that you would have to pick your church on the basis of your theology.