One big happy family?

What do you think about church? I think it might be interesting to get a discussion started on this, as many of us find aspects of church difficult. A few questions to kick off:

  • How important would you personally say it is to be part of a church – essential, important, not particularly significant, very unimportant? What about going to services or other church meetings regularly? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being part of a church?
  • What is your reaction to people in church very unlike yourself? What can we do when we find ourselves responding badly to them?
  • How do you cope when your church (if you have one) has a style of worship that you find different from your ideal?
  • What would you say are the most important priorities in choosing a church?
  • How would you change your church, if you have one? Ideas for what we can practically do at the moment to change things would be great.
  • Do you think that being part of a group of Christian friends can take the place of church?

I find it very easy to be critical, so I want to add the following sort of questions to balance things:

  • What do you think your weaknesses are, that others in church could help you with?
  • What’s really great about your church, if you have one?
  • Hope that sets things off. I’ll rant about my own church situation in the discussion as it gets going.

16 Replies to “One big happy family?”

  1. I have real problems with church. I find it very boring and I hate the way people seem to think they have the right to comment on your life and tell you what to do. Appreciate that this is just my experience and other people have a longer attention span than I do…

    Sorry this is so negative. Will try and think of something more constructive to say.

    This is M by the way – can’t remember my password! (Have it written down somewhere but not here.)

  2. I’ve just come back from a church meeting to choose a new assistant minister and it struck me how everyone really wants to be a community and help each other. Not an experience I’ve had in other churches! Aren’t you all jealous now…

    They still made us say the grace to each other at the end. That makes me want to be swallowed up into the ground.

  3. Some answers and some issues . . .

    “Do not be in the habit of missing meetings,” is what the author of Hebrews writes (Hebrews 10v24). He places emphasis on the fact that we should be encouraging each other when we meet (v25). It’s so easy to go to a meeting to GET instead of GIVE – how often do people in the congregation personally take time to walk up and encourage us ? . . . Very seldom I think.

    The church in Acts 2v42-47 seems so incredibly close. They would meet EVERY DAY! I would find that pretty challenging.

    Being a disciple of Jesus is voluntary – it’s a want to not a have to, I think. So I believe that being at church should be the same. I can so easily go to meet with the church cause I feel like I must, and I can’t help thinking I’ve got it mixed up somewhere along the line. What do you think?

    GAV

  4. Yeah it’s similar to giving money away – we should give willingly, but we also should just give … very hard to do sometimes, and we just love to get stuck in a rut.

    No idea of an answer, by the way.

  5. You don’t have to – you can choose not to sing.

    I frequently do when people sing songs I don’t know and I genuinely like to just close my eyes and listen to people singing to God.

    try it !

  6. Dave, not sure what you want so I’ve tried to answer your questions briefly.

    I believe it is very important to be part of a church. It’s not one bit but the whole of it which is needed i.e. it’s good to listen to someone who has studied the bible and has thought about it enough to talk to people about it, it’s good to at least think about worship when others are singing even if you don’t like it, it’s good to have Christian friends who enjoy your company for who you really are, it’s good to actually get involved and dare I say it even test your faith in a friendly atmosphere. In essence, going alone is seriously tough but not impossible.

    Loads of people have different views on all sorts of issues but we are all there to worship God as a community. If you don’t get on with someone you probably don’t have the same interests so find someone you do and spend time with them instead. If there is no easy way out, like, you play piano and they play drums and you never agree on a speed of a song or whatever I say, think about what your going to say and be honest in everything and by that I include apologising and being gentle with correcting. It’s hard to stay mad at someone who is being kind to you. I guess it’s love your neighbour.

    Worship I have always struggled with. Personally I try and do different things, like not sing ! Try it, I guarantee that you will feel weird. As I said I try and do different things, as long as I am not in a rut whereby I raise my hands in the chorus or close my eyes to certain songs. Personally I like to feel like my worship to God is about me expressing how I feel to God and if I need to sit there like a stubborn child crossing my arms huffing and puffing before I realise that I am in the presence of a Holy God then so be it. I don’t want others to come up and ask if I’m alright just because I don’t conform. My ideal would be to go to a church where all the members of the congregation were expressing their worship in different ways. My aim is to have no concern of ‘how I appear to others’ when I have been given the opportunity to worship, not sing in D minor.
    So to sum up, if you don’t like worship then change it.

    Most important things to look for in a church in my opinion. I would look for solid preaching, that is the biggy for me. I would look for a congregation which has a wide age range and must have people my own age. I would look for a cell church (one where there is small group bible study). One which is outwardly looking i.e. what have they been doing, what can I get my teeth into, what do they do which I think “Wow, they did that for God – Fair play, they mean business”.

    If you want to change church – why not change jobs, do something different. We choose everything we do (well within reason) so I can’t see why we can’t choose are church. Be honest at all times including yourself.

    Being part of a group of Christian friends can not replace church. Unless it mimics what we do in church.

    As for the last few questions, well I don’t at present have a church but the thing I liked most about church is the sense of community when you’ve been there for several years.

  7. I just wanted to add this to balance up my er… somewhat negative comment earlier!

    On Sunday I was staying with a friend and went to his church. He told me it was going to be a boring service so I was all prepared to patiently sit through it thinking about all the stuff I still needed to do and waiting till we could leave.

    Ok, it wasn’t a rocking singing thing and the prayer book stuff wasn’t hugely exciting but the guy who got up to speak was so genuine, honest, earnest and INTERESTING. It was the first time ever that I have heard a sermon and then gone home and re-read the passage. And also the first time that now, 4 days later, I could actually tell you what he talked about in more than just a vague sentence.

    Has really encouraged me that church isn’t always boring even if the peripheral stuff makes it look like it’s going to be. And that the people in it make such a huge difference – the guy who got up to speak had written his sermon on the “wrong” passage so the bloke who got up to read had to do a last minute change on what he thought he was reading but the atmosphere was very accepting: I have been to churches where this mistake would have been frowned on and it would all have been really awkward.

    Also made a really big difference to be able to walk away and talk to someone about what we’d just heard. At home I go to church on my own so this isn’t something I get to do often.

    I think I have gone on long enough now!

  8. This is a hard one. I was a regular church goer for months and months and months, but then i became ill. The church soon became aware of this, and soon enough i became wary of stepping in the doors knowing full well that i was going to get questioned, and it simply filled me with terror.
    I wanted to be at one with god, but couldn’t because i was too busy concentrating on dodging the questions.
    At one stage, for about three weeks, every time i arrived, i was taken into a back room, and prayed for by friends, but also complete strangers. They would try to force me to give my problems to God, and i had to be honest and say that I wasn’t at all ready.

    I am returning again tomorrow after a 6 week break. I feel that church is really essential and I would not like to be with out my church. i come away from church, knowing that God is with me. Sometimes no church can leave me feeling really quite empty.
    I do feel that my church is very set in its ways. I am by far the youngest there, so my thoughts maybe come accross as a bit radical. I question a lot of what the church says, and really have to take away from the sermons what i believe to be the truth. My church can try and tell you how to live your life, and in no way give way to your personal circumstances. I realise that there are things that are hard to accept, but i feel that each and every member of the congregation truly has a slightly different view from their neighbour, but try to take all of it on board. I hope that makes some sense.

    I attended the youth church for a couple of years, and that really worked for me, as i saw my life change, and i could talk to the leaders like my peers, where as now i feel like the pastor is a million miles away from understanding me.
    Well this are just a few of my thoughts

  9. There’s nothing wrong with questioning things.
    It’s good to do that rather than just accept everything people tell you.
    I spent a long time not asking questions and am now doing a lot more of it and realizing I should have started earlier and then I wouldn’t feel so silly doing it!

  10. Great to see lots of discussion about this – sorry I haven’t posted my ideas until now.

    I was asked by one of my church leaders the other day what I’d change about our church. (I wouldn’t change that, for a start – it’s fantastic that the leaders are asking this question.) I replied after thinking for a while with two apparently trivial details, but said that there were deeper underlying issues behind both.

    Before I said what I wanted to change, we had a long chat about what was great about the church – I really am very happy here. The people care for each other, we’re taught a lot from the Bible, we encourage each other to be more holy and follow Christ throughout the week. There’s so much which is good that I hardly notice.

    The first thing I wanted to change was: turn the horrible Shine Jesus Shine muzak off the church website. No matter how committed you are to being a Christian at work, it’s painfully embarassing to have that blaring out in the office when you check the website and forget to turn off your speakers!

    The deeper issue about this for me: how can we best use the website as a welcoming, including medium for interacting with the community? Often, church websites are really neglected, but websites are rapidly becoming a primary surface with the outside world.

    The second thing I wanted to change: don’t use the drum machine on the 1970s synthesiser during the singing at church. It makes me cringe.

    The deeper issue: how can we use limited resources to worship God in a relevant, reverent way? How can we almost cater for everyone’s preference in singing style?

    So, as you can see, in some ways I’m a nit-picker. In other ways, I think my church is facing very common issues – how to cater for many tastes, and how to keep up with the new electronic methods of communication.

  11. Yeah it’s really useful to be able to discuss stuff and share the experience.

    Glad to hear this m, may you have more experiences like this.

  12. Have tried this and it does help sometimes so long as I’m not worried about people noticing I’m not singing. Thanks.

  13. Yes crackers should stop hacking the Pentagon and Yahoo and track down all the sites that have MIDI music and deface them by removing it and replacing it with a polite message:

    GOOD AFTERNOON. YOUR SITE HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF AURAL CONTAMINATION. THIS IS AN OFFICIAL CEASE AND DESIST NOTICE. BY ORDER OF THE RIGHT-THINKING PEOPLE’S COALITION ON MIDI EVIL. THANK YOU.

  14. I have been looking at a lot of church websites lately and most of them don’t really tell you anything if you are someone who is just trying to find out information! I don’t know how useful they are to someone who actually goes to the church (my church doesn’t have a website as far as I know) but for someone who might be thinking about going there they aren’t very welcoming. And if they have cheesy electronic sounding music then they don’t last long on my computer…

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