Tag Archives: Church

Is Listening to Hard?

Yesterday I put forth a theory that media may be a contributing factor to killing off the community of the church and society as a whole. Today I want to add to that theory: Has media created a society that doesn’t want to listen?

Specifically I want to address church. I have noticed that many kids are telling me that church is boring because they are just preached at and then they leave. When do they get to contribute? Church has largely been a model where one person spoke from the front in one way or another for the majority of its existence so why are kids saying this and not only kids but young adults and indeed… older adults as well? Has church really changed that much or has society changed that much?

I believe it is the latter. Media has created an idea that either you are being entertained with television or your social interaction is limited to 140 characters (let’s be honest, who reads longer FB posts than that in their entirety?) We have become a society that can skim and judge and put out our opinions with the touch of a screen. Everyone has something to contribute but no one cares about what other’s have to say. If it isn’t a meme or a photo, it’s not going to get nearly as many “likes” or “hits.” This is not conducive to active listening. In fact, the slew of media that are introduced to our young people at such a formative age does not train them to listen and that, I believe is contributing in a huge way to the decline of our culture in church.

So the question is, does the church change to fit the times and create a whole new model based on the idea of allowing everyone to contribute and no one to listen? Are Twitter churches in our future? Is personal community where we look in peoples eyes and listen to what they say and pray for an attitude of understanding during a service to hard to maintain in our Instagram world?

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Why aren’t you like the early church?

I was discussing with someone why the current model of the church isn’t following the early church model and have been formulating a coherent thought about it ever since.

Why aren’t Christians over in war torn countries trying to help? Short answer, we are! There are missionaries from many different organizations who have gone to help the orphans and others. When there is a disaster, Christian organizations are some of the first to respond. In countries like Haiti, organizations have set up permanent residence and are helping on a daily basis, often with no intent to convert but only to offer medical assistance. We don’t hear about these organizations often because they aren’t sensational.

Second answer is this, not all people in the early church or the current model are called to over seas mission. Those who are are talked about in their churches circles and written about in books. Those who stay behind and fund these endeavors are often not talked about at all unless their contribution is huge and considered newsworthy by the sensational new media. Even in the early church there were more who were converted and did mission work in their own towns than left and traveled to convert others. Look at Dorcas, Priscilla and Aquila, Peter’s mother in law and many others. Paul was constantly writing to churches he started and why would he bother if every convert was out on the road prosthelytizing? Some people have to stay home and minister to their own community.

Communal living was a big part of the early church and frankly, the church has to grow with the culture in which it thrives. This communal living may work in countries other than the USA but here, where I live and now, when I live, culture is not at all like what it was when Jesus and his followers started the first group of Christians. (Also remember that people were worshiping God, the same God, long before we were called Christians. Now I am no theologian but just these few insights have changed the way I look at the Bible and its description of how the church should look. However, this should not detract from the message of the Bible and Christianity. We are to spread the message of God’s Love. How that looks and is accomplished is a matter of semantics.

Small Town Life – The Conversion Factor

Here in Small Town there are alot of Mormons. There seem to be missionaries everywhere! They are riding their bikes and walking and talking and well, we have a large Mormon population anyway but then there are the missionaries and we are saturated. Every 6 months or so, a new crop of missionaries will come in. Inevitably they will come to the house and strike up a conversation. They usually start with asking if they can do anything for us. For some reason, they always show up just around dinner time. I don’t know if my mom’s kitchen (which is huge) is a legend in the mormon world or if the scent of her homemade cakes wafts down the street to the ward only two blocks away but those Mormon’s know just when to come and knock. My mom can’t resist inviting a young person to eat. So in they come and then they come back and are invited in again and well… we aren’t Mormon so the success rate of their conversion attempts is clear. The usually leave a little bit fatter and we have yet another copy of the Book of Mormon.

Truth: I consider myself a churchy person. Why? Because all my friends are at my church. I love my church. I’m involved in my church and I regularly attend my church. However, I don’t feel the need to create baptized members of my church for the books.

Small Town Life – Delivery

If Small Town Life has taught me anything, it’s that food is the only way to react to anything. This spring has been a time of going out and coming in life. There have been several deaths in the church and my family and around town and basically, the whole town reacts with food. They make freezer meals and bring them over or just come with a meal that’s ready for that night. If someone dies, you won’t have to cook in that house for a month. images3

Of course, we had a baby this spring and that same thing happened. FOOD! It’s awesome

Truth: What else can we do when we want to support those who are going through something? Either a new something or a sad something or whatever. Food delivery is standard because it helps in several ways.

1. Usually, food is delivered in throw away containers. This means, if you have paper plates, no dishes. As a new mother and also someone who has dealt with a death in the family and severe illness in the family, I can attest to the awesomeness of not having to do dishes!paintings-family-food-tables-Thanksgiving-Norman-Rockwell-Turkey-bird-_472406-32

2. Having food delivered saves money. When you are dealing with a new expense of some kind (a baby or a funeral or hospital billls), having food delivered saves money. Maybe not alot of money but some and every little bit helps.

3. It is one less decision that has to be made. Have you ever been in the situation where one more decision will throw you over the edge? After having a baby or deciding on someone’s end of life wishes, deciding what to have for dinner is just one more thing and it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

So, to all those ladies who organize meals for people in the church or community – keep on keeping on. If you are one of the people in the crowd – sign up. That one meal makes a world of difference to those who are hurting, busy, or just plain overwhelmed.Saturday-Night-Live-The-Return-Of-The-Church-Lady

Small Town Living – I need to do something nice…

So we are sitting in church and I’m realizing how small it is. I’ve been in bigger churches. You know, a few hundred people and everyone is in their own seats and kids are sitting with their parents (or there is provided childcare) and everyone is disconnected and responsible only for themselves and they listen and they sing and they leave. However, in our church, we know EVERYONE! There is no childcare. Kids are wandering around the church at liberty to sit with whoever they want or wander from pew to pew collecting candy from every kindly old lady. They are visiting quietly with their friends and parents are sending Facebook notes to each other about afternoon activities or night entertainment or lunch plans. A little girl notices the pastor is back from a trip and yells out that she’s glad to see him and is invited up to the platform for a hug and a rendition of a favorite song. This is my idea of a great church life. Let the little children come… Let the adults participate and love each other and interact with each other. Let the visitors be invited to our homes and into our lives a bit for the day.Norman Rockwell, 22.05.2013

To keep the chaos down a bit, Andy and I insist on a reason for leaving our pew from the kids. This week, Abby’s reason was, “I need to do something nice.” Now this isn’t alot of information for a mother but what can I say? I decided to leave it alone and allow the pass to the rest of the church. She took a handful of colored pencils to a visiting child so they could color a picture provided by the children’s department earlier. It was a nice thing to do. Only in a small town church does this happen…

norman-rockwell-scout-is-helpful-boys-life-1941

Plugged In (A Sabbath Post)

I once heard someone say they were tired of church because when they went, it seemed that no one was “plugged in.” I’m amazed to say that I have never seen that. Even those who I don’t get along with well are “plugged in” at my church. I am so lucky to be a part of a VERY small church where every member is a part of something. Everyone has friends who they spend time with outside of church who attend the church. Even in a church where there are only about 80 regular members, there are small groups, bible studies, youth activities, and alot of lingering in the foyer after the service making plans about vacation bible school and date nights and play dates. It’s amazing to be in an active church. I love it. It is not always perfect. There are times when there is upheaval and angst and discord but we never leave. Like a good marriage, we stay and work things out and agree to disagree and still interact and live together.

Recently I have visited several other churches. I have been asking questions at these places. Questions to those around me who attend them on a regular basis. I find that they are all feeling like those around them are “not plugged in.” However, the people I have talked to are not involved. Involvement doesn’t necessarily means you are leading the youth group, singing up front or giving the sermon. It might just mean that you have made a conscious effort to become friends with others in the same congregation. It might mean that you are attending something other than the weekly service. It might mean that you are a helper in a department or take up the offering or open the doors in the morning or paint a backdrop or collect items for the kids program or make food for someone who is in need. It can mean any number of things but being plugged in doesn’t mean that you go to church, sit in a pew, listen, sing and then leave. That is not being plugged in. Just because you thought the speaker had something good to say does not mean you are plugged in. Just because you love the band does not mean you are plugged in. I am alarmed at how many people believe this. It amazes me how many people believe they are plugged in when they don’t even say one word (or live one word) of that christian life outside of their church.

So my conclusion is this: make a friend. Just one, who attends the same church as you do on a weekly basis, and see what happens.

image came from the prescott life church.

The Athiest in Heaven

I’m a Christian. I believe in God the way the protestant Christian church describes him to me. I believe He loves me, wants the best life on this earth for me and despite knowing better than me, would never take away my power of choice no matter how much I might hurt myself or others with those choices.

That being said, I have read Love Wins and although I don’t believe in every part of the books presumptions, I believe what I think is the strongest message in the book, that God cannot be limited. He cannot be contained by any description or theology. He is bigger than anything we can imagine and He can present Himself to those who may never know His name (do we even really know His name?) or His form or His church. I believe that there will be atheists in Heaven. I do absolutely mean those who identify themselves as atheists in North America where there is infinite information available via the internet and were we have unlimited access to churches and complete freedom to believe how we want. There are people, in this country, world… whatever, who have been presented with the idea of the Christian Jesus Christ in such a distorted way at an impressionable time in their life that they are not able to accept that idea of Him that way. I believe that only God Himself knows who will be happy in Heaven, which is an idea so far from what we know, that we cannot even fathom it. He alone can determine who will be in eternal bliss or in eternal hell in the Heavenly setting and we have no idea who He is working on and who He has already touched. Is it hard to understand that? Is it hard as a Christian to accept that we don’t have a guest list in hand? Yes. We think we have at least some of the answers and that we know who will be there with us but we really don’t. We don’t even know for sure who WON’T be there and that is an even harder concept to accept. It is easy to think we know who might be there but is it easy to accept that we don’t know for sure who won’t? Can we accept that? Can we, as Christians, be ok with what God decides at the end? I hope so because He is God! and we are not.