We’re trying a different church this morning, not a new one but one we’ve been to many times already and which we’ve come back to once already, making this our third go round with them. Strange? Sure. It’s a large church – the largest of its kind in the world, and perhaps the largest of any church in this area – which you’d think would be a strike in our book. It’s somewhat of a distance from our new place as well, which would rack up another demerit as our focus recently has been on finding and developing relationships in our community. And seriously – we’ve been to it so much already, wouldn’t we have made up our minds about it?
Actually not. The first time we flirted with it was our first few months in town and we were occupied with finding just the right sort of church and hadn’t yet felt like we’d exhausted our options. Not finding what we were looking for, and deterred by the aforementioned drawbacks, we moved on. Then last summer when the church we had been involved with for two years folded just as we were in the process of finding another one anyway we came back for a couple months to this one, knowing that despite its size and location we had enjoyed it and it seemed like a place we could trust. And this time around, knowing how our thoughts on church had changed, we thought perhaps we’d give it a fresh look.
Sure they’re big, but we like what they do. And sure they’re far away, but being as large as they are there are surely folks attending who live in our area. And if it turns out not to be what we’re looking for after all, then at least we know.
1. Nails and fasteners on a wall that have been painted over
2. Toilet paper that pulls from the back
3. DVD warning screens and logo animations that don’t let you skip them
4. Intro animations on web pages that don’t let you skip them
5. Business speak: leverage, value added, incentive based, win-win, incentivize, 110%, etc.
6. For that matter, Christianese: rescued from bondage, washed in the blood, sent forth, came to pass. For a translation guide, see this site.
7. Dresses over pants
8. The phrase “like so many”, as in “The offers stacked up like so many Sunday papers”. Why not just say “like Sunday papers”?
9. Bad MySpace page designs. It’s like the genesis of the web all over again, when everyone was a designer and about half the pages were unreadable.
We broke up with our church this week.
It’s a strange thing I suppose. We each wrote emails to the folks it seemed appropriate to write, and tried to explain as best we could how we had been attending a year, had made more than cursory attempts at getting involved, including two small groups, worship band and kids ministry, and hadn’t come out with any friends to speak of. I can’t really get into who to attribute that to, since just about everyone at the church, including most notably us, has small children and therefore remarkably little social energy. And that’s not really the point of this entry anyway.
The point is this: I realized it’s not a church we’re looking for, it’s community. We’re not looking for a Sunday morning experience, except as far as it is a part of the community experience. We didn’t leave this church, or any other that we attended for any length of time these last four years, because we were looking for better worship, or more Bible-centered preaching, or any other way of doing Sunday morning church better. We’re looking for relationship, thats’ all. We’re looking for a community that’s focused on dialogue more than dispensing truth, cultivating community more than putting on a good Sunday morning event, and navigating the journey more than defining the destination. People who use the word “and” where most others say “but”, and who can handle the long term and extensive mess that honesty creates.
And truthfully, we could take or leave Sunday morning. I’ve gone to churches I’ve loved, and others I haven’t, and I’m frankly not sold on the Sunday morning event in itself. There are many things good about it, and other things not so much. Today for me the Sunday morning event/celebration/gatahering/worship/service/call it what you will seems to be a place for people who are either already in the club or people that the people in the club hope are hoping they can be in the club too. On stage it can be very much like Letterman, where the band fires off a few songs before the monologue starts. But in the end it’s not an event that is created to involve people deeper in relationship. True enough, any gathering of dozens or hundreds of people by definition isn’t going to engender intimacy, and it’s impossible for that to be the focus of a church’s large gatherings. But for a religion based on ultimate love I would think it would be easier for a stranger in the crowd to identify the on-ramp to resources that could be personal and helpful.
In my experience here the churches have been consumer-oriented. It’s plain to see the effort and skill that goes into the sound, the lights, the music, the talk, the decorations on the stage, the choice of offering baskets. None of these helps me. Not an entire waste, perhaps, but entirely not the point of church. What I haven’t found yet is authenticity – individual authenticity I’ve seen in certain folks, including pastors, but corporate authenticity has proven entirely elusive. Maybe I’m being impossibly idealistic here, but if this sort of church doesn’t exist then someone should start one.
Optical Disc Media
CDs, DVDs, even the bleeding-edge BluRay format, all headed for extinction. In the age of petabytes and broadband, why would I consent to only being able to store one album or movie at a time? CDs already have one foot out the door – I can’t think of many people I know who still keep a collection. DVDs are next with BluRay already being the industry’s new sweetheart. But in the end all my movies and music will be on a hard drive or flash drive somewhere and I can open a player anywhere – in my car or on the beach – and watch any of them.
The English Language as We Know It
This perhaps can’t quite be classified as dying just yet…or can it? Read more here. According to Wired:
By 2020, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of the estimated 2 billion people who will be using or learning the language. Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca.