So, in a matter of 2 days I will attempt to finish my hypothetical church. It has proven to be more interesting and more challenging than I thought. I have been reminded of dear friends from the past and special moments that occurred in the buildings that we like to call church. As I hope to show more so today, those facilities, while important, are not in the real sense, the church. In fact, at least 3 of the places where we have worshipped, one only as guests, the buildings really didn’t even look like a traditional church building.
So, now for the harder part. What kind of worship and teaching and preaching will we have? Up until about 10 years ago, all of our worship had been in traditional Baptist churches in an almost exclusively traditional format. One( my home church) was independent Baptist and the others were Southern Baptist. The formats were very similar, congregational singing, welcomes and announcements, passing of offering plates, special music by choir or soloist, sermon of varying length, and an invitation or altar call for some type of individual decision. Services generally began and ended at about the same time every Sunday. Hymn books were employed, usually a printed order of service and little variation except on special occasions. Of course, attire was also similar, ” dress-up clothes”, one might say. Now, is any of this inherently good or bad. I know well some who would say yes with no equivocation. Having experienced it that way for so long and then moving in another direction I would say that it is neither.
So, my services will a bit of the traditional, an order of service but with flexibility. A definite starting time but no locked in end. If one must leave at noon, so be it. Hymnals are optional, but a mixture of contemporary and more traditional music would be employed. I like some use of technology, video screens etc, but not too much. I really would not have a choir per se, but rather more of a worship team with a mixture of instrumentation. I have written before about worship styles and this is a tough one. My preference, since this is my hypothetical church, leans toward the casual but sans sloppiness.
Finally, with a nod to my Pentecostal brethren ( I have been called a Bapticostal by one pastor of mine) , I would leave room for the working of the Spirit as it is sometimes called. A better explanation can be found on the Assemblies of Godwebsite under beliefs. I realize this area can be one of disagreement in some Christian circles but I would hope not a make or break issue.
I know I do not have a church with all the needed elements, but it hopefully gives us a small glimpse into all the features that come together to make a church. One closing line that I think all churches could use more of; to be place where everyone knows your name and they are always glad that you came- Cheers!
At church today , the sermon was on ” Politically Incorrect Worship “ and an interesting message it was . I have learned over time that a ” good ” sermon isnt always one that I totally agree with or that makes me feel good . Today’s sermon hit the mark on both counts .
My wife was unable to attend today so she asked for a summary or synopsis or whatever when I got home . About 15 minutes later, I finished . To her credit , she didnt complain about the length of my summary . I dont want to rehash the entire sermon per se but rather make some comments about how it affected me and some of the thoughts it generated . However , you can hear the sermon in its entirety if you wish . Go to newcommunitychurch.net sometime tomorrow and have a listen.
Over the years, due to moving etc we have attended probably 40 or more churches , some as actively involved , others as inquiring guests , others due to church responsibilities . Naturally , there are various ways /styles that worship is carried out . The music styles vary widely, due to skill levels, worship leader’s methods or proclivities etc . While music is not the end all , it does set the stage for good or bad . We have been in churches with wonderfully talented, traditional music programs, talented ” contemporary ” music programs , good ole Southern gospel etc . We have been drawn to a church by its music and ” turned off ” a church by its music . Must a church have good or exceptional music to have effective worship ; probably not but neither do I think falling back on Psalm 100: 1 is a valid excuse . Darlene Zschech is well known as a worship at her church in Sydney ,Australia as well as a singer and songwriter . I once read an interview in which she was asked about her role as worship leader . Two things stood out :
- She had 20 minutes , generally , available for worship music
- She told the interviewer that was ok, that she and the music were not the main show
That to me says that music had the appropriate but not the focal place in the service .Great attitude on her part and a good example .
I hadnt intended to devote the entire post to music related issues, so I will attempt to continue tomorrow .
I sorta borrowed the title from all time favorite newsman, Paul Harvey , a person who can genuinely be called a living legend . Anyway , here in our little town of Elizabeth City, I have been observing a kinds, sorta phenomenon of late . That would be a veritable explosion of church expansions . I can think of at least five church building projects that are either ongoing or ( in one case ) just completed . At least three of these when completed will dramatically alter the size, shape etc of the existing facilities . I believe I am correct in observing that none of the aforementioned churches are from traditional denominations . What this means, I do not know. Should I be excited about this- I think yes but I dont know why for certain; knowing that as clothes dont necessarily make the man neither do buildings necessarily make the church . Let us hope that this building boom that started with brick and mortar extends to God at work in the lives of people .
With apologies to Chris Berman of ESPN, I ” borrow ” the above phrase to talk about a topic unrelated to sports- the humble art of backing a vehicle . Remembering the dusty past when I endured a painful experience with driver training, this skill has necessarily been the strongest part of my driving repertoire . My wife on the other hand has always been proficient at same, even to the point of employing the dreaded technique of parallel parking – something doubtless invented by someone who enjoys tormenting others . Anyway, in my current occupation, there is an interesting dichotomy on backing . Since my job requires driving , myself and my coworkers are enjoined ( correctly so, I must say ) to practice safe driving techniques and to be particularly wary of backing up . Dont do it if you can avoid it . However , when parking we are obliged to back into our parking places . So this of course requires backing at the least a few times every day . Although I by no means would rate my backing skills as highly qualified , I would consider them to be above average , sufficiently so that I find myself more often than not backing into parking places at malls, church etc . Sidebar, I dont like to park near other vehicles when I can avoid it . Today , we arrived at church late and there being limited parking , I ended up backing into a space and sorta out loud congratulating myself . In a way that only she can my wife responded to my self congratulatory statement with a ” just shows that old dogs can learn new tricks ” . Lacking a witty comeback, all I had was ” woof ” .
To partially answer the above question, apparently it can be and in fact is very hard . At the least , it is proving to be so for my wife and I at this time in our lives . We have lived in a number of places in our married life , never more than 10 years at a time . We have been involved in church in all of these places, sometimes very involved and probably at times overinvolved . But this time is different . As I have said we now live in my wife’s hometown and since moving here have visited more churches than anywhere else we have lived . We have even stuck with a couple of them for close to a year but right now we are floundering badly in finding our place and I am not sure why . I have reached a point where I am reluctant to try yet another new place with all that such an experience entails . I suppose I am looking for what maybe does not exist- my ideal ( not perfect ) church . M ore thoughts on this to come until hopefully this vital issue can be resolved .
- Bible study
- Christian living
- Foreign Policy
- International politics
- Legal system
- Life and Death
- Local Politics
- State Politics