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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Thoughts on Church

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A strong wind was doing interesting things with the clouds last Sunday, when I took this photograph. The church in the picture is not the one that Doug and I attend. Actually, the shot was made from our church's parking lot.

As I thought about that, I thought about the reasons that different people choose different churches. For three years, Doug and I drove 30 miles to attend church in another town. While we were doing that, a couple from that town was driving the same 30 miles in the opposite direction to attend the church we're now attending with them.

I suppose most often a church decision is made based on the attributes of a particular pastor. Some look for one with an ability to teach the Word of God clearly and with application for daily life. Some may reject a pastor with good teaching ability in favor of one with good people skills. The ideal is when both traits exist in the same individual.

Some may look for a church in which the people are friendly. That should be the case among all Christian churches; but, sadly, it isn't always the norm.

In today's church culture, a big factor in choosing a church is often the type of music used in worship. Many churches today have adopted non-traditional music, usually played at great volume and with a pounding beat. Many people seem to be drawn to this type of music. Others prefer what they consider to be the more worshipful music and theology of the traditional hymns.

Local churches exist in such abundance that it's easy to just move on when a disagreement arises over church policy or in personal relationships within the church.  The argument can be made that it's better to just move on than to cause division in the church. There's something to be said for that. But I don't know if moving on is always the answer. It is, however, a fact of life in today's culture.

And that reminds me of this story:

A man had been shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. Years went by, and his hope of rescue began to wane. Still, he always kept a signal fire ready to light as he watched continually for any ship that might approach.
 
Then, one day, miracle of miracles, he spotted a ship on the horizon. He quickly lit the signal fire and began jumping up and down and waving anything he could find to attract the attention of the ship's crew. Slowly but surely, the ship began to come closer; and the man knew that rescue was finally at hand.
 
A landing boat came ashore with the captain and a couple of crew members. They couldn't believe what they were seeing.
 
"How long have you been living here?" asked the captain.
 
"I'm not totally sure," replied the man, "but I think it's been around five years."
 
"Is anyone else on the island?" the captain inquired.
 
"No. No one but me," the man replied.
 
The captain looked puzzled and asked, "Did you build that structure over there on the left?"
 
"Yes. That's my home," said the man. "I built that to live in."
 
"Well, what's this structure next to it?" the captain asked.
 
"Oh, that's where I go to church," replied the man.
 
The captain pointed off a little distance and asked, "What's that structure over there?"
 
"Oh," replied the man, "That's where I used to go to church."
 

10 comments:

  1. Good story.Too often divisions happen over minor things.The important part is that Christ is preached.

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  2. What a great story, and so true of human nature.

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  3. A good story, I enjoy visiting all in my area every few years. I enjoy the nontraditional music, but still like a good hymn sing.I went to one church hoping to hear an invite for a family dinner when I was so far away from mine.I never heard a peep and was shocked because we always had someone at our table on the holidays, especially as a kid.

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  4. Thanks, Ruth. I guess the divisions seem major to those in the middle of them. If only it wasn't so hard to keep the main thing the main thing.

    Thanks, Deborah.

    Thanks, Steve. It seems that practice of inviting people over for Sunday dinner is dying out, maybe because so many of us eat out these days.

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  5. Great post, Linda... Since I worked for the church for most of my life, we were always trying hard to meet the needs of people (which, as you know, is nearly impossible).

    We offered traditional services and contemporary services. We offered tons of ministries for families and for children and teens. We were a very large church (about 3400 members)---and marketed ourselves well..

    YES---a church needs a strong preacher/leader/minister. A church needs to be friendly and welcoming to others. A church needs to be filled with the spirit--so that people (when they visit) will find God in their midst....

    When you ask people what they want from a church, most of them will say that Christian Fellowship is most important... Families want programs for their kids. Singles and Older Adults want programs for their ages, etc. etc. etc.

    The larger a church is, the more money they have and the more programs and ministries for different ages they can offer.

    Some people attend for the good music... There are just all kinds of reasons why people choose a certain church. Some prefer small churches to the larger ones.

    When I was growing up, denominations were VERY important. If you were raised a Baptist or a Methodist (like I was), you stayed with that denomination. These days the non-denominational churches are growing more than the denominational ones.. That tells me that people don't care anymore about denominations...

    Okay---I've talked enough... Can you tell that this was my career????? ha
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  6. Betsy - I guess I pushed your button, didn't I? :) I attended a large church for years (1800-2000...not as big as yours), but we're now in a church of about 60-80. There's something to be said for both. As Ruth so simply stated it: "The important part is that Christ is preached."

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  7. I know this subject is close to your heart and I'm glad you have found a church that "fits".

    I had to read the story of the guy stranded on a desert island to Jim. He loved it as much as I did. Thanks. :)

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  8. Sandra - I'm glad you and Jim enjoyed the story about the guy on the deserted island. It was told by a visiting pastor at a church we were attending, the week after several people had left. It cracked us all up.

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  9. Funny story...I think I've lived it! (just kidding)... We've moved often, and finding a church that "fits" is not always easy.

    I've enjoyed my visit to your blog!

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  10. Hi, Deb. I'm afraid my hubby and I have lived it, too. We used to think bad thoughts about "church hoppers," and now we ARE some. :) Thanks so much for your visit.

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