Posted by: theacres | May 1, 2013

Church hunting – Bonkers or boring

It’s been a lovely sunny day, the wife has gone out with friends and the boy’s fast asleep, so it’s time to get blogging.

A couple of months ago, my family and I left our church. It wasn’t a easy decision and we’d been thinking and praying about it for at least a year, if not more. I served on the leadership, mrs the acres had been involved in running the prayer activities and in crèche, I spoke a couple of times per term, played in the band, the whole shebang. For all intents and purposes we were settled, we were part of the church.

There was a sense of unease, we knew that something wasn’t right. It was the church that we’d started attending after we got married, we knew loads of people, but could we honestly say that we had ‘relationship’ with people?

It’s not my intention to write a piece that critiques the church we were in, there were lovely people there, it is exactly the right church for a lot of them, and God has and will do great things through the church.

It wasn’t for us any more. We both come from mixed backgrounds when it comes to churches, both attending fairly Pentecostal, charismatic places at various times, but with a smattering of traditional church thrown in too. We were surprised that we’d ended up in the the CofE and struggled with some of its traditions. The time was right to move.

I resigned form the leadership and we fulfilled our duties for a time so as not to leave anyone in the lurch and then we set sail into the wild waters of church hunting.

What were we looking for? Hard to say really, we wanted somewhere where God was, and where He wanted us to be first and foremost. A true sense of community was important, people often say that church is their family and we wanted to experience that in action rather than in words. We wanted passionate, lively, enthusiastic worship, good strong teaching and the feeling of excitement about church that made us wake up on a Sunday morning and go ‘great, it’s Sunday, we’re looking forward to going to church’.

As we visited a number of different churches over the weeks we started to notice a pattern. You can have lively, enthusiastic, passionate worship (and I’m not just talking about music here, it’s a general buzz, an atmosphere of excitement) but from our observation that comes at the expense of something.
In some places it’s the welcome… We went to a couple of places where we’ve been made it feel utterly miserable because no one seems remotely interested that we’re there. Ok there may be reasons or excuses for that, but still, if we were unchurched we’d be reluctant to come back to an organisation that can’t even be arsed to say hello!
In other paces it’s the theology. Once you scratch the surface of what they’re professing you realise that there were some pretty bonkers ideas going on. ‘Name it and claim it’ prosperity leanings are still alive and well, people. Heavy shepherding is still squeezing the life out of people and controlling them. While I recognise that these interpretations of scripture work well for some, it’s not our bag baby.

Jesus is the starting point, if we acknowledge that it’s Him who paid the price for us, it’s Him and only Him who can bring us to the Father then we’re talking the same language, however neither mrs the acres or I are comfortable in an environment where you have to sign up to a great long list of shizzle before you can be considered one of the club. Again I don’t want to be critical, there are some who find this reassuring and it’s as valid a viewpoint as the traditions that have grown up in all of the recognised denominations, but like i said, it really isn’t our bag, baby.

On the flip side to this is where we go to a church where the theology sits more comfortably, there’s a welcome, there’s community, there’s well-thought out biblical teaching, but where’s the excitement? Where are the people who are so bursting with the Holy Spirit that they have to belt out the songs, regardless of whether they’re Matt Redman or Charles Wesley? ( I might have to come back to my current thinking on modern worship on another occasion) I’ve no doubt that there are people who are bursting with life in these churches; it all seems a little bit too white, middle class, ENGLISH. Come on people, let’s strip down to our pants and have a boogie! Let’s have an enormous shaven headed guy funking out on the bass, sweating proudly as he worships the Lord with a tight groove.

Bonkers, or boring. That’s your choice.

We don’t want to settle for that. We want to be excited about the good things God’s doing, we want to feel His love for us and for others, we want to know that when we balls up someone’s going to love us and not condemn us. We want to wake up on a Sunday morning and go ‘great, it’s Sunday, we’re looking forward to going to church’.

So why is it so hard to find the balance?

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Responses

  1. You know I wanted to respond but have not known how.
    I’d love to be able to find a solution, fix your woes and sort the wrongs of the world, but, I’m not God (just as well hey).
    So it’s taken a while to put ‘pen to paper’.
    I think the most eloquent thing I can write is … fancy a pint?

    Bless you mate!


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