What I long for in the church...

What does my heart increasingly hunger for in the church?  (this is just today's urges and inklings...I think it flows into our theme this year of "Simpler.  Deeper.  Richer.  Fuller."  Here are a few thoughts that fill my mind today:

-Simplicity.  There are days when I find myself worn out at the thought of church.  It has so much going on most of the time there isn’t time for anyone to breathe let alone listen to God.  I wish more people stayed at home with their families at night.  I wish there weren’t so many services each week.  If I could boil down the two things a church should provide it would be:           
            -A Collective Gathering focused on Celebration and Enlightenment. (Weekend)
            -A Communal Gathering focused on Conversation and Ministry. (Weekdays)
It would be so awesome if the rest of the week an emphasis could be placed on family, friendship, and community involvement.  The church cannot monopolize people’s time and energy and expect them to engage their world with creative passion.  Church must be looked forward to as a deposit, not a withdrawal.  This does not mean that people are consumers; it just means that church shouldn’t drain people, it should fill them.  A move toward simplicity would be a refreshing change in our modern church culture.

-Artistry.  There shouldn’t be an occasion of boredom in the church; it should be invigorating and stimulating.  It should be innovative and unpredictable.  It should be creative and imaginative.  I think the word artistry wraps up all these words into one.  Everyone has creative talents and energy to contribute to this kind of environment.  Whether people like to read, paint, write, build, draw, design, speak, or sing, the church should be an epicenter of artistic activity.  For far too long the church has been on the outside looking in when it comes to creativity and originality.  I love being a part of a community of artisans.

-Ministry.  Needs met.  It’s that simple.  Not wants met.  Needs.  People deepest and rawest needs.  Everyone is broken, some more fractured than others, but everyone suffers from a brokenness of some sort and it’s only in the presence of other human beings that true healing can be experienced.  “Confess your brokenness one to another that you may be healed.”  James 4.  Ministry = Healing.  I long to see a community unleashed to heal each other, not relying on the pastor to bind up wounds and shepherd hearts, but feeling empowered to ask questions, provide counsel, lend an ear, pay attention and do battle against the enemy for a brother or sister-in-arms.  Ministry occurs when everyone is aware that they are responsible to bring healing and freedom to each other…each and every day.

-Honesty.  Nothing else matters if this element isn’t an overarching value.  “I’m free when I’m me.”  If people are not being themselves, if they are somehow changing hats or covering up or toning down when they get around each other in a church setting…we are just plain fooling ourselves to call ourselves the church.  Church should be the one place where you can be real, can let down, can open up.  If you’re struggling with something it does no good to pretend your something you’re not.  I can’t wait to kill the poser in each one of us that keeps us from experiencing the joy of honest to goodness living.

-Energy.  Words that come to mind when I think about this component are words like Anticipation, Expectancy, Alive, Excited, Engaged.  No one waits for something to happen, they make it happen.  They purpose in their hearts to create an atmosphere that fosters laughter, trust, tears, and life.  They don’t come to church to worship, they come worshipping to church.  There isn’t a possibility for people to experience the Spirit, if the church isn’t full of spirit.  We must celebrate life, culture, and beauty.  Energy is the result of those who love life and live love.


Anna said…
I couldn't agree more. I've almost given up on finding such a church. I'm tired of all the facades and shallow interactions. I don't think I am going to look for a church to go to when I move next month...between books and podcasts and cds, I can learn and worship on my own. I find better friends - people who care about me - through places other than church. I've never made a real friend through church. It makes me sad that the people who "should" care and be open and welcome are the farthest thing from it.
Jodi said…
It's sad to hear comments like Anna's but she's speaking from a position I'm afraid many are experiencing today. We've always been part of a vibrant church and the relational aspect of the body has been critical for our health and growth. Im sure Anna knows that the church is Christs plan for our preperation to be with him forever. I would encourage her to continue to do her part in Christs body even if it's not being reciprocated. Faithfulness in this work will produce true joy and since we know God wants for us exactly what Anna is longing for we can pray in faith that he will provide for our needs in this area. Sometimes I dont understand why God puts us in situations where we rely on others but I guess thats a whole other topic. Keep your chin up Anna, press toward the mark.

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