…in case you were wondering.

Two Churches On Easter
April 9, 2007, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Kristin and I went to two churches yesterday. One started our day, and the other led us into evening. One was considered an Easter service, the other lacked an outline. One came and went with time, and the other left us talking late into the night.

Church One:
We started the morning running out the door with no breakfast, and grumpy kids. Early mornings are rare in our house. Kristin teaches the pre-school class and needed to set up her class room before the service started. When we got there we were greeted by the pastor, shook a few hands and blended into the scenery. Kristin her way, and I mine. I dropped the kids off at their respective classes and went to the sanctuary. I knew one or two of the guys involved in the music team so I stopped to say hello to them, made a joke that no one got, and made my way to a seat near the back. I watched as people filed in, shook hands and greeted each other with, “It’s great to see you today” and “Welcome, can I show you a seat?”.

The service started with a perfectly mixed sound system. The keyboard melted into the guitar, and we started to sing. A cordial welcome from the pastor and then into the text. I found myself slipping in and out of paying attention, but in the end was confident in retaining enough information to relay to Kristin on the ride home. After the service ended I walked to the center of the room and looked around for someone to shake hands with again. Not finding anyone, and not approached by anyone, I decided I would just go get the kids. Walking out the door, one more handshake and a professional “Thanks for coming. See you next week?”, I walked down the hall to the classrooms.

Because this church meets in a school everyone was running around taking down the decorations, put up to cover the decor of a elementary school gym. Sound equipment, pipe and drape, and chairs all needed to be put back in its place. I started to help, but was left alone in a sunday school room to finish up to allow the others to start on another room. Kristin and I folded the last of the drapes and walked to the car.

“How was church?”
“Okay, I guess.”

Church Two:
The kids had just woken up from their naps. Kristin and I had hidden a few candy filled eggs in the living room and handed the boys their baskets. They ran around and hunted through the couch cushions, toy box and book shelf. Before they finished the door bell rang and the boys were asked outside to play. We opened the garage and pulled out our canvas folding chairs, like we do every afternoon around 3:30. Bike being ridden, bubbles being blown, and four sets of parents made the usual circle half in the sun, half the shade.

Soon enough the talk of how church was, and how the kids liked their easter baskets ended and the conversation became real. It only took about ten minutes, but we found out there were real things to talk about. We asked questions about marriage, distance, closeness, and what could be done about the stresses of everyday life. We shared our hurts and were able to collectively offer “advice”. We begged each other to let us help with each others kids, and knew that each one of us would pray for us all that night. It was getting colder outside, but there was no rush to leave what we were doing. There was nothing to clean up except a few bikes and chairs. And I don’t think anyone wanted to leave. Darkness eventually came and we all went home.

“How was church?”
“I loved it.”

There was one real connection yesterday. There was one real example of the sacrifice Christ made for us, and how we could love as he loved. And I believe there was one real church.


5 Comments so far
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Mrs. Euphrony and I have always tried to be the people who turn the church #1 model inside out. No, we’re not on the professional team of greeters; we’re not the recruited door-watchers. But we open out eyes and honestly try to greet and meet the people we don’t know, most especially if they seem to be around a similar stage of life as we are. We try to talk to the people we know and make the greeting more than glad-handing. We don’t have a cul-de-sac group like you do, but we try to make the “corporate” church assembly something less business-like and more personal. Call us counter-insurgents within the church.

It saddens us, though, to know that there are six or seven couples in our church of ~1200 that we seem to be the only people who know or talk to them. One couple would likely disappear from any sort of worship of God if not for our occassional interaction. (Not to toot my own horn here, but I honestly think this to be true. And that reminds me, I need to call him . . .)

Comment by euphrony

OK, Brody, I won’t delete this one.

I hear what you’re saying here. Honestly I do, and my comment is not intended in any way to dissuade you from your feelings about the cul-de-sac church. I have had friends in the past that have come together in such a way, and it was incredible. There was healing, Holy Spirit, love, growth, service. And then there was also misguided theology, and a bit of exclusivism…

It’s just…I’ve been hearing this alot lately. That the, how should we say it, instituonalized?, or no, maybe structural? church is not working and possibly not worth it. And, well, it just doesn’t sit right with me. I know there are problems, and I definitely have my own issues with it. But the thing is that I’m not sure you can ignore a structural assembly. There is accountability and authority and history to be taken into account, among other things. (I think there’s a discussion on Shlog about this, but I’m too far behind to get in.) At least we have to admit that the structural church is still a meeting of believers where needs are being met.

I, for one, think it’s weird that we as Christians go around and get to pick our circle of fellowship. It’s like the weird you feel when you try to pick a kid from the hundreds of Compassion kids on the table. Like should I really be picking?

I enjoyed your post, and it’s making me think.

Comment by FancyPants

I agree with you to a degree. I think that a church in a building can work but it is not the most important gathering. I think the things we do on a daily basis is what really matters. The thing that we have been taking about lately is that you can pick your friends but you cannot pick your community.

Comment by urban mama

I am not saying that there is a right and a wrong way within this post. We have been talking a lot about the topic of “institutionalized” church, and I thought it was interesting that the very next week, I am involved in two very different church experiences.

I’m not the most socially outgoing person in most rooms, but I thought that it was weird that I could stand in the middle of a room, literally looking for someone to talk to, and couldn’t find anyone.

That, to me, is devotion to a building, not a “Church”.

I don’t think all churches do that. I just think it’s more common than we’d like to realize.

Comment by Brody Harper

I hear what you’re saying. I think I’ve experienced what you’re talking about.

So, the question is then, what is the purpose of the assembly of believers? Not necessarily the church, because that is widespread, the complete body of Christ, throughout the world.

But the assembling of believers in a shared location. Is the purpose to find friends among those believers that we can talk to? Hopefully, we do. But is that the main purpose?

I think the answer is no.

We’ve felt that it’s hard to relate to people in our church because we’re just not like them. We don’t live in a 4 bedroom house with kids and a Mercedes, where the husband works 9 to 5 and the mom stays at home. We don’t fit that mold.
But I have a feeling that in whatever assembly in which we participate, the same thing will occur?

Comment by FancyPants

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