Saturday, May 17, 2008

Differing priorities

Two days in a row Paul was pulled into a discussion with 2 different people about choosing a church. The first was a co-worker who happens to attend an LCMS church we tried attending. Due to their practices we have chosen not to return. The person he was talking with asked if we had any luck finding another church. This led to a discussion about what we are looking for. What Paul noticed was that the criteria we have for finding a church is very different than the person he spoke with. We are very concerned about what is preached, practiced and confessed by the congregation. The other person was more concerned about finding people his own age and believed that the practice wasn't as important. Since he confessed something different than what the church teaches he is also not as concerned about what they believe.

The conversation today was with an acquaintance over lunch. She asked us about where we attend and what religion we are. We always get these looks when we answer this question. The woman said she wasn't non-denom even though she attends one, but she attends her church because it has a wonderful youth group. She said that this was more important to her.

When did church become about activities? I cannot understand why anyone would want to attend a church when they do not agree with the teachings. Over and over again we have spoken with people who say that it doesn't really matter what the church teaches but it does matter what kind of activity, youth group, "insert a program here" is offered. When did this become the criteria for choosing a church? Both of the people Paul talked with mentioned that the church was too judgmental. What it boiled down to was that it is not the church's place to apply the Law. It's more important how you feel, about being included, and having a good time. It's about inclusiveness. It makes it difficult to talk about this subject when you seem to be speaking different languages.


Susan said...

>When did this become the criteria for choosing a church?

WHEN a person's confession is "how I feel about myself, my activities, my good works, and my relationship with my fellow-congregants is a higher priority than doctrine." It's not that what they're looking for in a church is more important than doctrine; it's that their "felt-needs" actually IS their highest doctrine. Which does not mean they're unbelievers doomed to hell anymore than I (or you) with our own pet gods. But it's still dangerous.

Michelle said...

I have noticed too that people will look at you cross-eyes if your church does not do all sorts of activities! I had a relative of mine ask what our church did for Mother's Day. I told her that we had prayers for all the mothers during the prayers of the church and a nice announcement after church. She was almost insulted that there wasn't some sort of special "thing" in honor of mother's during the service! Our church was celebrating a divine service that morning. Again, I don't know why it should always focus on US. It should focus on Christ!

Karen said...

Unfortunately, the majority of people look at church as a social group of "good people" doing the "right" things. My mil came to our church last Sunday and commented that the church was unfriendly. She was upset that our church was not friendly. "Friendliness" is stressed at her church. She sat with us, stood with us, and left with us. She was not a visitor standing alone. The members in the congregation were busy greeting the children who had been confirmed. Yes, it would have been nice if other members had greeted her and spoke with her after the service. More importantly God's Word was clearly present, both Law and Gospel.