Sunday, January 27, 2008

What’s your view of church?

I’ve attended many different churches since I began walking with the Lord. I grew up Roman Catholic; not by choice but by pedigree. Being half-Italian and having that religion be the more prominent of my parents is typical in America. As a result, until the age of 23, my view of church was a droning dead cemetery full of ritualistic and superstitious nonsense where a man who could never marry wore strange robes. Though after being saved I began my Protestant journey at an inter-denominational, theologically Baptist church called Bethlehem Community Church in Delmar, NY. Though not as contemporary as people who are among the contemporary movement would say, it nevertheless was much different that I was used to. I then attended a full-blown Pentecostal church where the “gifts of the Spirit” were allegedly in full force. After an unwarranted bad experience there due to some personal convictions, I then tried a supposedly modern church where a “come-as-you-are, we-wear-jeans” mentality was fostered. I quickly learned that that church had no interest in spreading the Gospel, only spreading a new way of doing church…a new way of doing church, hmmm?

That experience made me think for the first time about “doing” church. How is church supposed to be done? Do we have to have choirs? Can we have a worship band? Should there be a dress code? Should we administer the Lord’s Supper every week? Thoughts like these ran rampant in my head. Now I must add that at that time in 2003 I had recently become convinced of the endangered theological position commonly known as Calvinism. But I didn’t and still don’t hold to most of their common customs. Though they scream bloody-scripture when you dash a question at their liturgy, I am nevertheless still convinced that most of it is just down-right traditions.

So how do we do church? That’s a good question; one that Norm and I are seeking to discuss in the up and coming months. Nowadays if you have a deep conviction for orthodox theology, the only place you can really go to church is an antiquated society of tradition-holding Presbyterian churches. On the other hand I see nothing inherently wrong with wearing jeans to church and maybe even bringing a drink in the sanctuary. But in order to find this you have to go to a theologically bankrupt community of Joel Osteen followers. But do these things really matter? Some might say they do. What's your view of church?



Coach Sam said...

Hi guys... just wanted to comment that I like your blog and plan to weigh in on this topic, which I believe is a vey good one. Thanks for your Christian witness to the blogging community..!

Your Brother in Christ,

Coach Sam

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your message that believes that the Christian message must be balanced between culture and truth. The fulcrum must be scripture with the Holy Spirit lithely going back and forth on the balance beam leaning into the culture and into the honest authenticity of expression.

I have been what most would call, professional ministry for a good portion of my life. I have been a youth pastor's wife and a senior pastor's wife of four churches from Colorado to Northern California to British Columbia, Canada and now back to Southern California. Each church had a very different personality and the group "did" church a little differently than the next.

Prior to getting married, I went to a church where you could fit the entire youth group in our fireplace. It had all the trappings of a 60's evangelical church, but was far from the norm. My Mom who came to Christ through crisis in her life felt the call of the Holy Spirit on her life. She didn't believe that the Holy Spirit could work off of a roster and wanted to break any rules of denominationalism in this "new way of doing church." So she talked my Dad into buying a hall, purchased an organ (what else do you need, right?) and started studying the scriptures and teaching His word each Sunday. My Dad sat on the last row and controlled the sound with one button on his chair and could be the first one out the front door when the final prayer was said. I taught a pre school Sunday School class in the women's rest room and told them of the love of Jesus as we all smelled the lysol. The congregation hardly grew to any number much larger than a few families. I could go on at how different or weird the church experience was. I was forever embarrassed to tell any of my Christian friends what church I went to. It wasn't even a question that came up with my non believing friends. When I look back, I realize that not many people came to Christ at that little church. It was mostly family members of the faithful few. Culturally, I wouldn't have thought of inviting a friend from school...I was way too embarrassed. The atmosphere was too unique to even relate to. But...I also realize that the Holy Spirit was very present there. I learned so much love and spiritual community there. Every member of my Mom's family...aunts, uncles, cousins, least 100 were all brought to Christ through that ministry. I know that my life was changed for Christ there. I began to look at it this way: Noah preached for a hundred years or so and no one got in the ark except his own family. Church is community loving Jesus based in His word. Culture tries to influence it. Satan tries to destroy it. What is done for Christ will last. The same Holy Spirit taught me at an up tight, legalistic Baptist church and He taught me at a theologically straight Presbyterian church and He taught me at a rock and rollin' Pentecostal church right along with an absurd, tiny renovated dance hall church where a tiny little lady preached the gospel of Christ. I'm open to what God has to say today!

Anonymous said...

Just a clarification Damian,

I don't think Calvinists are at all "endangered"! Au contraire, they are blooming right about now (pun intended).

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