Sunday, May 27, 2007

Church

We decided that since we can't get to our home church every Sunday due to finances, it's a 3+ hour drive each way, we would attempt to find a church around here to fill in the rest of the weeks.

The first one we called is a few miles up the road. Being that we are VERY picky, we had a few questions. We decided that since they practice open communion and have female lay readers this was not the place for us. It seems they feel that since they are the only "Lutheran" church for 50 miles that they can't turn people away from the rail. They see this as loving but I have a hard time seeing it that way.

We did find a pastor 50 miles from here in Bakersfield that seemed to be a bit better. They use a hymnal, LSB, have closed communion, and no lay readers. Sounded too good to be true. Of course being the EXTREMELY picky people we are we just decided that wasn't enough. The people at the church were very friendly. There was the less than stellar children's sermon focusing on Memorial Day, um...why do people feel the need to do children's sermons? Do the kids really need everything so watered down? I don't think so. But I can handle that, barely... The sermon was more of the Bible trivia type with no Law & Gospel, I could probably put up with that since the liturgy is good... The announcements during the service were just too much. After the offering but before the prayers was where they decided to discuss the youth group raffle, Sunday school, VBS, etc. To my horribly picky sensibilities it seemed disrespectful. We are supposed to be there to be receive God's Word and to interrupt that to discuss the goings on of the church was just too much. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be that way but I can't see it any other way.

It's frustrating! There was a few more things that we didn't care for, communion only once a month was one of them. But all together we know it's too much. Everyone has different tolerances so it might work for some but not for us. We've made a lot of mistakes at churches over the years, leaving when we could have stayed and staying when we really should have just left. One thing I have taken away from all those experiences is that when your mind is telling you not to go back, don't. Forcing yourself to fit into a church that's practices are more than you think you can handle is a very bad idea. People get hurt, especially if you end up leaving a year down the road. You become a part of that church and when you leave it hurts not only yourself but the people of that congregation. Even if you are leaving on good terms people get hurt and it has the potential for ruining any relationship with these people you might have had outside the church.

So this means the next closest church we can try is 1.5 hours away and that is stretching our resources. I knew there was a reason we decided to drive 3+ hours when we first moved here, I guess needed to be reminded...

6 comments:

Marie N. said...

Sounds like you are listening to good instincts there. Is it possible to have the pastor from the place that uses liturgy make a house visit to you? A private service with private communion is better than none. And he likely gets a car allowance just for this type of thing.

elephantschild said...

Our Pastor's children's sermons tend to have LAW and GOSPEL just like the regular sermon.

It CAN be done well, although you're right, it rarely is.

Kim said...

Although I've never seen it, I'm sure children's sermons can be done well. I guess my biggest problem is the question of why do them?

We don't change the Bible readings, or the hymns, or the catechism so why do we feel the need to give a different sermon for kids? It goes along with my inherent dislike of Sunday school. I don't want my kids to think that Bible study isn't for them. I don't like the idea of segregating the congregation by ages. In the same manner I don't want them to think they don't need to listen to the sermon because they already listened to the children's sermon. Because when is that magic time when the sermon is for them, at 10 or 15 or 18? I don't think it's necessary to try to make the talk relevant for a specific group, we all need to hear that we are sinners and are forgiven through Christ. The message doesn't change.

I said we were very picky. I don't like innovation in the DS. Children's sermons were taken from the reformed the way the little plastic communion cups were. Neither is the best practice so I don't really want to see it in a church that we are going to. That doesn't mean I throw up my hands and refuse to go to a church that uses them, but it does affect my view of the church. There are only a few things, like women lectors/communion helpers, open communion, and comtemporary worship that cause an immediate departure

Just as an aside, we do speak to the pastor about the practices before making any decisions. It's a whole different matter when it's an inherited practice that is in the process of being changed.

Kim said...

Oh, one more thing...

I think we often, as a society, underestimate the ability of children. They can understand and pick up a lot more than we give them credit for. Our kids have attended "adult" Bible study with us since they were very young. Throughout that time I have been amazed at the questions they have asked about the topics we have discussed. Often times I thought they weren't listening but they proved me wrong.

elephantschild said...

Kim, please know that I actually *agree* with you on this. Our church is the only church I've ever been at that I could say the kid's sermon is ok.

The reason I'm ok with them (at least the way our Pastor does them) is this:

I was a really shy kid. I was *totally in awe* of Pastors growing up and rather intimidated to talk to one. Also, I was hurt deeply by pastors in the past. I'm only now, under this Pastor's care, coming to terms with the fact that I can in fact *trust* this father in Christ.

My DD is comfortable talking with Pastor. She's not frightened of him, partially because she sits beside him every Sunday during that Children's message. We belong to a mid-size church and we're not part of the dayschool. She's not in confirmation instruction yet. Children's sermon is her up-close time with him. I want dd to know that Pastor is her father in Christ, to whom she can talk when she feels the need, and not some distant, scary, awe-inspiring, non-person.

And my kid LISTENS to the regular sermon, even though she's already heard the Children's sermon! I DO NOT allow her to bring bags of toys and snacks to play with during church! :)

Again, I'm sorry I caused a problem!

Kim said...

No problems here :)

I enjoy talking about these things and reading different people's views. I'm not upset or anything like that. I just wanted to explain why I dislike them.

The process of examining and explaining things has always been a good way for me to 1) remember why I feel the way I do and 2) to make sure that I've looked at all sides of an issue. There have been many times that this has helped me to realize that I've changed my mind :)