While I was gone again this past week, I ran across a local opinion newspaper called the Reader Weekly (www.readerweekly.us). Unfortunately, they are behind in posting to the web. I do love well written opinion pieces. This newspaper is definitely full of opinions, and they don't slant to the right! It would probably go up in flames if touched by a Christian-right-Republican. It was interesting, none-the-less.
One article, by Paul Ryan, was entitled, "Nobody enjoys church, not even God." Basically, the guy doesn't like anything about traditional church services. And who ever said that we all have to have the same taste in anything? His concluding paragraph says, in part, "The main problem with church services is they just don't inspire me.....If I'm going to attend something meant to enlighten me, I'd sure as hell better feel at least partly enlightened when it's done. Instead, I just sit there bored, feeling guilty every time I check my watch.....Some church leaders would have us believe that it's our fault for not being interested but is it really? It's not my job to make church relevant. Relate to me, or I'll just stay home and watch football...."
Which begs the question, "why do people attend church anyway?"
I guess I attend both to worship (what I do) and to be fed (what comes to me) through the service. Each week the percentage of each probably varies. Sometimes I attend out of habit, sometimes because there is something special going on, and sometimes I really do want to be there to worship. A Catholic friend of mine says she would tell her kids when they complained about having to attend church, "If you don't have one thing to give thanks for from this past week, well, then you have a sad life."
But who can blame the writer, or any person who has a less-than-deep understanding of the "worship" service for feeling as he does? Perhaps this is why there is a segment of the American Christian church that uses entertainment type music and preaching and other "attractions." Maybe it is meant to hook people with the secular-type goodies, and then give a dollop of the Word of God, but maybe don't be too challenging with what part of the word is preached.
I saw a church ad in the Rochester, Mn newspaper last week for a church which stated, "We are not seeker sensitive and not purpose driven." Now that made me wonder if they are insensitive and without purpose.
Last weekend I attended the church of a relative. It is an old fashioned type of Lutheran Church. The songs dragged on and I could hardly hear anybody singing but us. The liturgy was scant (that is what is in their book.) And the preacher gave a very basic sermon based on Jeremiah 11:18-20 titled, "It's in the Lord's Hands." I felt like he was talking to me and the others as if we were in 2nd grade. The whole theme was how God takes care of His people. If this had been in my own church, you can bet I'd have found a chance to ask the pastor, "But what about ____ and ____???"
Well, as soon as we got up to leave, I said to my companion, "I don't think he could preach that sermon the Sunday after someone in his congregation was murdered." My companion responded, "And not after the Tsunami." That was not the Word of God one could fall back on during hard times.
Quite frankly, I did my best to listen well, to sing praises, to participate during the liturgy, but I didn't feel all that worshipful during those draggy hymns, nor was I fed or inspired.
Hmmmm, why attend church?