Saturday, February 28, 2009

How much is that Bible in the window?

I've never had as much feedback or commentary on a blog post as I have on my prior post on church shopping. To be clear, in that post, I did mention that I can see and understand, yea verily sympathize with, all kinds of reasons for searching through churches and visiting a variety of congregations. The post was not necessarily to people who have been looking at churches for a while or who have felt the need to see "what else is out there", but to people who chronically experience serial monogamy with churches- staying at a church for a year or two and then moving on, for whatever reason.

There are two issues at hand in "church shopping" (or seeking). One is trying to find a church that fits your needs at a given time. Granted, your family church of three generations may not do that every Sunday of every week of every year of your life. It probably didn't for your grandmother either.

The other issue at hand is does not pertain specifically to the church shopper, but to the pastor and the long-time church members who may disdain the "seeker". Church is not what it was thirty years ago or even fifteen. When I was younger (not that long ago), my family went to church on Wednesday nights, Sunday morning and I had youth group on Sunday night. Every week. Period. Church was what you did. It was the social place, the spiritual place, the community place (even though our church was 10 miles away).

Times have changed. People have far more things to do these days and, seemingly, less time to do them. So what is church now? The place for drive-by spiritual recharges? The entertainment center with stimulating music and speakers? The dwindling family reunion with more funerals to report than weddings?

We are in the midst of redefining what it means to be church. We means everybody. The long-time pew stake-holders (yes, I see you). The two-time visitors. The pastor, still busy and still called to Word and Sacrament, with pastoral care and so much more.

If we don't all contribute to the vision, then the Body of Christ limps along without the occasion or the space or the active members to show the world that what we believe is true and that truth has freed us.

Perhaps instead of deriding or defending church shopping, the question we should all be trying to answer is "What is church for me? And how will I know when I find it?"

Then we roll up our sleeves and start praying- with our hearts, our voices, our hands and our feet.


LoieJ said...

Good post. I think there are sub questions as well: Do I go to church for what I get out of it or do I go to worship God.

When church goers lament the lack of attendance, especially among the younger families and the teens, we can ask the question: Are they working on Sunday? If so, what is the local church doing to provide an alternative to Sunday worship? And a corollary question if a pastor/worshiper only believes in Sunday worship is, do I shop, travel, etc. on Sundays so that there has to be so many people employed on Sunday?

This isn't exactly what you posted about, but I would expect that some church shopping is due to scheduling issues.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if my comment sounded defensive. My goal, " quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to take offense ..." James 1:19