The busy front must recognise the homework, the housework, the social inevitables, the tedious hunt for a new couch. The heart must recognise the crappy situations going on in Burma and China. The fingers must recognise a lack of touch to keys a small apology and the brain is simply flying around like a ninny making sense of frustrations I should have in someway long gotten over and in others, adhere to for sanity, reality and sensibility’s sake
I met a girl on the train the other day, she was terribly intentional about starting up a conversation. It was soon established that she came from (and I wont name it) a rather large and what I’d describe as hypey church in the city. Hypey from experience. We kept talking. I turns out she works there etc. etc. Her conversation (Once she’d established I was a Christian) was loaded with Christianese and she presented the appearance of quite a settled, ‘Everything is great when you have Jesus’ life, except that it was more, ‘Everything is great when you have church’. It disturbed me
One of the reasons I’ve delayed writing this post is that I have a good old fat tendancy to be rather rude and harsh and I’m not very good at being tactful. Look I’m trying assume the best that she had a particular extroverted personality that simply expressed itself in that way. But it did progress some thoughts.
Then last night I had the chance to hear Erwin McManus speak at CityLife – a huge church (He was great btw). I struggle incredibly in going to large, very polished churches, something feels really out of whack. I’m not dissing CityLife here, they had some ripper decent theology in their songs. But big and flashy always brings the thought home.
Christianity wasn’t ever meant to be a show, and I understand that it gels with some, perhaps even fits a particular culture but to me it presents a face that feels really fraudulent and it actually scares the pants off me.
Living authentically is difficult. Talking about Jesus is difficult. I wish for my life if anything, to be brutally honest.
What happens when that doesn’t happen in our communities? When they themselves become our world. Our work, our friendships, our lives.
I know that God will probably drag me nicely across the floor in terms of being far less judgmental when it comes to alternate expressions, and I know I have much to learn from the courage and the enthusiasm of others but it’s rather complicated at the moment, because the walls fly up and render me pretty well incapable of even participating when dumped in any situation of the like. I have a terribly jaded, critical beast in me that hates what I see (badly) and hurts for the people I know who have been repelled from this institution we call church.
I want for my life to be tied to His and not simply to a beurocracy, an idea or a specific community. So much good can easily go wrong. We do need community, but it cannot become God.
I think it mainly hits during the whole ‘music/worship’ time where those at the front are clearly (often but not always) performing. Especially when they get even more enthusiastic/holy-acting when a video camera is on them. It’s hard to swallow.
Just out of curiosity… but how do you know when those people are performing? Are you them? Can you see into their hearts?
That’s a big call you’ve made. I don’t want to seem like Im having a go at you. I always read your blog and I love your blog and I know that your intentions are pure. But I guess I just want to challenge you on that.
Do you make these assumptions based on past hurts? Do you know any of these people personally and have a close friendship with them? Or are you make judgements from a distant?
Thanks firstly for your comment. I didn’t know you read 🙂 Always nice to see a lurker poke their head out.
It is a big call and in many ways I do not have the right to make it, I guess what threw me most was watching a young (quite innocent looking) singer on stage’s demeanor change when there was a live video camera on her. I was sitting directly at the front and had a pretty good view.
I am definitely recognising that, and I hope for many, genuine people who are upfront but I guess the root is in asking why do we make our churches showy and in some cases only present a certain ‘type’ of person at the front (I’ve seen it done, where it’s the young and good looking up there exclusively).
I haven’t personally been hurt by a large church. I’ve gone to quite small churches most of life of a wide variety of denominations, my current church is large and getting larger.
I have had a close friendship with someone who was hurt by the fake ‘happy clappy’ demeanor of a church because of what she was going through at the time.
What it really comes down to (and this is an issue for any church, big or small, pente or conservative) are the relationships that should be happening and space for those to happen. And the allowance for less to be driven by what goes on a Sunday or AT church during the week.
When church (institution) becomes someone’s world – when it drives their social, work, spiritual and verbal interaction it gets plain creepy.
Get out there?
i get annoyed when i’m told at church that to be a ‘good christian’ you must be there everyweek morning and night. especiall since my church is having so many ‘issues’ at the moment. its not a good place to be sometimes.
It’s kind of funny that at my (new) church the sermon was about ‘the church’.
He spoke briefly of a line from the Apostle’s Creed. “I believe in… the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,”
Anyway, I just thought that it was interesting that the sermon and this post are kind of interrelated.
The last thing I want to do is judge you….so please dont take it that way…but I wonder how you can look into the girls heart….
I also think there is an element of performance in just about everything we do…even designing a beautiful brochure. There is performance in a drama, or a sermon for that matter. The degree of this might offend our Aussie sensibility but I dont think it goes against a biblical principle.
I think its one thing to say..my personal preference is not for that musical or worship style…no problem with that, God has made us all different. I also think we all of our own subjective views on what authenticity it…but God looks on the heart.
Maybe the girl was just trying to do her best to lead the people.
You’re right, there is an element of performance but when you can see something visibly turn on ‘more’ when in the spotlight – it no longer feels like the person is up there leading worship.
It isn’t however the main point anyway. What truly concerns me is when a church becomes our ‘only’ world. Where we live, breathe and find our identity in it.
Worship styles will never suit everyone. I struggle with the issue of things being showy and popular because I don’t think that’s how Christianity necessarily works. And when that’s coupled with a touting of ‘how good our particular church is’, well, that defeats the purpose of Church.
and I’m not saying that about a particular church, more as a general things, because I think it can happen anywhere.
Fair enough Bec. We probably disagree on some basic values there…but thats okay! 🙂
I really resonated with this post. I have seen it many, many times. Either hyperfocused on the church or on the pastor. I’ve known pastors who don’t announce whether or not they’re attending a function because to say they’re not going means half the church won’t be there.
We may not be able to see into anyone’s heart, but we can sure see the fruit that’s falling at their feet.
thanks for stopping by Tami