Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Church Question

Friday night Amy and I attended our monthly adoption support group which is now being held at our home church. I noticed something which might help explain some of what makes the "worship" experience uncomfortable for me.

I've heard the standard suggestion that if I don't feel comfortable I should not be there, and boy have I pissed off some people by insulting their personal feelings of what is and is not worship. The reality is that the liberal definition most people want to apply to worship allows for an anything goes if we feel we are reaching people attitude. I tried to illustrate this with some discussion about new worship styles that include professional-level concert lighting and semi-hypnotic computer graphic packages played on movie theatre-sized screens behind the band that leads the worship.

So here is what I noticed..... there is no altar. There IS a stage. I've heard of worshipping at an altar, never at a stage. People perform on stages. Is this not correct? In the traditional churches I grew up in, you would go the altar, kneel and receive communion. You can't really do that at a stage where there is no rail, and just a carpeted floor with a 2 and a half or three foot riser on which the band plays.

7 comments:

amy said...

An altar can be anything you go towards. I understand that this is completely different than what you grew up with and its good that you are aware of what makes you feel comfortable and uncomfortable. I have felt Gods presence in both types of worship. You just have to be willing to listen. I will have to agree that at times I pay attention to some details that I shouldnt but in general I have loved this experience and I am glad you choose to go with me. Sometimes its really hard to get used to something that makes you uncomfortable. I didnt pray out loud for a long time because of that.
In other words, I understand what you are trying to communicate!

Im here for you!

steven.russell said...

What I wish people would understand is there is no right way. There is no wrong way.

Worship is done many ways. In many forms.

Not one more right. Not one more wrong.

Bella's Mommy said...

Michael,

I feel the same as you on some of these issues. We have been trying a new church and I just don't think it is the place for me. It looks like an auditorium and the music is too loud and too contemprary for me. This is a very fast growing church and some of our friends attend there. The attraction for this church is there are lots of group opportunities and we are trying to meet new people and make new friends. Without crosses or statutes, candles or traditional music it just doesn't feel like church to me.

amy said...

One of the reasons we tried our church was because of the growth opportunities and because of that we have a wonderful community group that meets every 2 weeks and meets for trivia before that.

When I was in college, i felt out of sorts as I was not worshipping or enjoying it like everyone else. It took me years to realize worship is personal. You cant judge how people worship because only God can see hearts. Its very easy to judge people who are part of the worship experience. I was bad at this on Sunday. That kind of interfered with my own worship experience.. People are always going to question this. I know you are struggling with this and looking for the right answers, and Steven is right, there are no right answers.
It took me a very long to realize this...

Love you...

your wife
Mrs. Amy Christopher

Love and Smiles said...

Michael,
I too struggle with some of this. Does tradition have no place in the church anymore? I agree with meeting people where they are and I completely agree that there is no right or wrong and that worship is personal (that was an awful sentence!). But my question is are we losing something when we don't include some of the traditions in the services? Some of those things that are considered "traditional" and "old school" have some great theology in them. I did not go up in the church. So my interest in them is not steeped in "this is how it is done..." I am forever grateful the church we attended in VA. They sang both traditional hymns and contemporary music in their services. I learned several of the hymns! Wow such powerful words!
I am concerned about my girls growing up not knowing some of the traditions. And please, I know that the traditions mean nothing if they are just rote, but if meaning is given to them, they can enhance our faith.
Another thought: my mom won't return to church because it is too different from the way she was brought up! There maybe a whole demographic of people who we are missing because we are so bent on the "younger" crowd.
Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts. I dearly love my church and I am thrilled at many of the things we are doing to reach the unchurch, I just think we need to be careful not to lose the respect that some of those traditions bring to church.
(Don't even get me started on dress code!! That is a whole other conversation. and one that is really not important because I know that God does not care what clothes are on your back, He cares about what it is your heart!!)

There Michael, I comment on your blog!!

FRIGGA said...

Hmmm, I may be a little late to the discussion but I love talking about religion. Like the previous commenters above stated, worship cannot be definied, it's spiritual not physical. It can take many different forms for many people.

That said, usually people aren't open to all those different forms. Although the church works for others, you seem to prefer something more traditional. I believe that if you go to a venue you're more comfortable with, then you'll be more open to accepting God, and better able to build a stronger relationship with Him.

Of course, being married complicates that. The marraige of Christians is among man, woman and God. Man and woman are expected to worship together (aren't they?). Not ever being married, this is where my knowledge of scripture fails me... When all else fails - talk to your pastor,

Bubba's Sis said...

I agree with the above commenters that worship can be many different things, and the more comfortable you are in your worship, the closer you will feel to God. I grew up in very traditional churches - Methodist, then Baptist. We now attend a very contemporary church that we enjoy very much. It's going to be different for everyone, but what is important is that you DO worship Him! We are doing a wonderful study on Acts right now, the first church being the model for all churches - they banded together and devoted themselves to worhip, to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. Spiritual community is really the only means to fulfilling the Great Commandment and Great Commission. Worship where you are comfortable, but worship somewhere!