Monday, August 24, 2009

Where To Begin?

I have so many things on my mind, lately, about this church thing. I've tried to process it, but I don't know how successful I am being. Connecting with some folks on Twitter makes me hopeful about the ELCA, but I am still trying to decide where my local church fits in.

My local church, I've heard, has attendance of about 800. The background I got from someone there, recently, is that it was founded as a "seeker" church. Once attendance grew to such a large number, they had to move to discipleship. I am glad they realized that shift was necessary. However, I kind of wish I had known all of this, before. It was not mentioned in the new members inquiry class.

We have two services, recently cut down from three. We used to have a traditional service and two contemporary services. Now, there are just two contemporary services. Admittedly, in my limited knowledge of the ELCA, that seemed strange. To not leave the traditional worshippers completely out in the cold, we were told we'd start incorporating more blended elements into the other services. So, one week, we sang some hymns--not set to organ, of course, but to the band. We did a "creed," but the creed was a statement of faith about the Bible (which freaked me out because, you know, we aren't Fundamentalists!) A congregation member sometimes goes forward during prayer, presenting the prayers of the people. This is not every Sunday.

Once, before I knew anything about the ELCA, I attended a service at a local church. I was so confused. I heard the cantor, and I was like "Where is that voice coming from?!" I couldn't see anyone. And, hopefully this is no sacrilegious, but I hate organs. Sorry, but I do.

However, I prefer a bit more structure over a free-for-all. I like relaxed liturgy. I like that the liturgy or at least distinctive elements of Lutheran worship are present. So, I like singing a hymn by the band--updated in rhythm, etc. The words still speak and I feel connected to something besides the people singing. I like saying a creed (an actual creed, and not some weird statement of belief). I like prayers of the people. And while my church has started to incorporate these a bit, it's all too rare and I honestly think it's to appease the folks whose traditional service got the ax. Thankfully, we have always taken communion weekly. I like that, and I am not even sacramental. It's such a beautiful sign of the community to share the Lord's Supper together.

My recent apprehensions about my local church is that going in the doors, you could never tell it's Lutheran. I've been to non-denominational churches that take weekly communion. The sermons are sermon series (and so far I have sat through Max Lucado and Rick Warren sermon series, which, admittedly, freak me out). The worship is spirited, and while I love to see people enjoying worship, hand-raisers make me a bit uneasy. There was not one mention of the Church Wide Assembly before or after. Wouldn't it make sense to be in prayer about the assembly since there were such large issues to be addressed?

So, why am I there? It's given me a community of friends, in my small group, that I did not have before and haven't had for a long time. They are people with whom I can have fun, on whom I can call for prayer and support, etc. They are a gift; they are probably the biggest reason why I am there. Also, B likes the music--the contemporary praise and worship songs. I'm not sure, but perhaps those basic sermons reach him where he's at. Also, if I am not there, where do I go?

These are my apprehensions about my local church and my presence there. Do I stay, as it is my church for such a time as this? Will I be prompted to explore other options? At this point, I honestly don't know.

No comments:

Post a Comment