Saturday, October 08, 2005

My church is a seeker oriented church. We use drama, rock music, video clips, and other “relevant” tools in order to speak to the unchurched. After being out of church for a painful ten years, I entered and found a different, engaging way of doing church besides Pentecostal guilt trips or liturgical exclusiveness. I agreed to a spiritual journey guided by God and many wonderful people (mainly women) within my nondenominational (Willow Creek associated) church. I’ve loved it, felt at home and community, and served in a leadership capacity many times.

Now, however, seven years later, I’m in a critical stage. I sit and sift through my pastor’s pleas for backing for a couple of new projects.

I’m not doing ecstatic cartwheels for the new children’s wing which will have enough intended zip factor to make the kids drag their parents to church (the repeated stated hope). I don’t necessarily believe that ball pits, video gaming, jungle gyms should be used as kid manipulation talking points (Toys R Us is powerfully annoying enough to adults). I feel somehow that the focus of God is being drained instead of being sought in Itself as the gainful goal.

Then, we’ll eventually be hosting video venues in various locations other than our church. Our pastor’s talks, our wonderful band’s music, and video clips or drama presentations will be replicated where there is space for people in outlying communities to see. Each site will have a pastoral representative for a local touch. Again, I have an aversion to replication of message and personality, of a draining of local churches toward a church that has the zing and the toys to deliver. The argument is that the ‘unchurched’ will feel safe going to these, and not those already at First Baptist Church on the corner, but I’m not so sure. The personal again is taken away, we look toward one more flashing screen, our accountability is unsecured. A sense of ritual as worship seems to be erased.

The way our pastor delivers the hope for these changes is quite salesmanly. We heard tonight that those who don’t go along with the changes are equated to “laggards”, a derogatory name on a chart showing a category of people who don’t respond well to change. Our pastor gave us a visual demonstration to help us understand the need for a change (which they are calling “A Revolution”) by standing behind a table with a rock, a hammer, and a automatic nail drill. He said that better tools are more effective. Hammering with a rock would be going backwards, for instance. The nail drill was the tool of the day, the tool to make a difference. I understand up to a point, yet it was an ironic funny mix of metaphors, though, to me. Isn’t the rock the solid ground upon which to stand? The constant? The most natural, nondependent upon other things to be. My husband said also that homes that were built the old-fashioned way were the ones that usually stood up better to the test of time.

Sigh. I love the contemporary and relevant in some ways. I love that our band sang a Cheryl Crow song one day which was connected well to the message. I love the smartness and the applicability of my church. But, I despise not being able to join in the throng, my friends, and support this venture wholeheartedly. But, I can’t seem to without being false to my thoughts about the way to worship God and reach out to others.

So, right now, I feel like one of the old Muppet men on the balcony, being contrary. "Aiiiy, yaiii, aiiiy, poo-ey to one and to all!" (I loved those two, though, didn't you?)

We’ll see how it plays out; I don’t feel like going to the Lutheran side quite yet!


alaiyo said...

I am SO with you, Teri.

Relevance has its place, I'm sure, but is way too overrated in our present culture. Seems to me the church needs to be "relevant" to God's culture, more than ours. :)

Blessings as you work through these difficult issues,


Fieldfleur said...

Thanks, Beth, for your wonderful perspective (again!)