Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Latest Beef with Church Stuff

I just realized the other day that I am passionate about a technical issue about religion. I will be vague as to not single out any activity in particular, because this has been culminating over quite some time. And yes, some of it stems from my own frustration with the Sunday night and Wednesday night requirement for church attendance.

Basically, my beef is this: Christians do not have to have a church service to have fellowship and to grow in Christ. I, personally, feel like we too often consider fellowship sitting in a service and shaking hands with those around us at the appointed time (or the 'pony time' in West Texas). I am not against the church service at all—I love it and it is crucial to the life of a Christian—but it is when people have to have a formal service to feel like they have had fellowship or "God time"? that bothers me. I guess that's their decision, but I believe so much in the power of just being together as a source of Christian fellowship.

Case in point: Small groups. Some of the most powerful spiritually moving times I've had are in Christian small groups, even though we had no Bible open and didn't sing any Songs of Faith and Praise. God still reveals himself in my friends' lives, and I need to hear their stories—even though their stories didn't make it into the Bible. Beyond that, I have never had many deep Christian relationships until I was involved in a small group. This is my own fault, but I have to have the small group to survive spiritually. I'll have to admit, though, sometimes if our small group gets real small (like 4-6 people), we just talk about our lives and what's going on, and I still feel spiritually uplifted. Just a note: we certainly use the Bible and scripture in our group, but we don't feel like we have to exegete a passage every night, thank goodness!

This isn't coming out real clear. I would make a horrible church minister. We need the church, we need to worship together as a church, but woe to us if it stops there. A Christian in isolation isn't experiencing life and will easily fall, and a Bible class with 20-60 people is still isolation in my book. If we were not in a small group and did not hang out with our Christian friends outside of "church,"? we'd fall away, even though we would still be at church every Sunday. There are 10 other people in our home group, besides Monica and I, and we would trust our lives with any of them. We would battle Satan with any of them.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are with other Christians and are frustrated because you are not having a formal devotional, just drop your guard and get to know one another. Stop thinking that a Church service is the only way you can worship and fellowship with others. You'll never get to know somebody by standing next to them during a service, but you really get to know someone when you play a game, sit around a table, go out and get coffee, eat dinner together, etc. Plus, when you really know the people you are worshiping with, you are worshiping on a whole other level. How many people do you "know"? at church? I certainly don't know enough.

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