Sunday, September 26, 2010

On the Challenges of the Church

My church is entering a time where we are beginning to build an addition to our existing facility. To prepare for this period, we have been asked to participate in a couple of different studies.

The first study is on the biblical book of Nehemiah. We are encouraged, as well, to participate in a small group study of a study guide to accompany weekly sermons. My small group has been unable to find a time that works for everyone, and thus, I have the guide but have done nothing with it.

As part of this study, we were challenged to attend church each week for the next 70 days, bring our Bibles to church, etc. Seeing as I am nowhere near a perfect attendance award at church, that 70-day challenge of weekly church attendance was daunting, and I already failed. In week two.

And bringing our Bibles to church? It's been a while since I have attended a church in which people brought their personal Bibles to the service. I mean, why should I when the words to the scriptural text are on the big screen for me? Back in the day, I took my Bible to church and even had a fancy-schmancy cover in which to carry it. Now? My favorite Bible--my Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha--has been in my garage since I moved. In June 2009.

However, that challenge and my lack of commitment to it is really about my shortcomings. Yet, this second challenge? I'd like to think its problems are bigger than my inadequacies.

I was confused when we were issued a 40-day challenge to read this devotional, because we are still in the midst of the 70-day Nehemiah study. Then, I realized I was expected to multi-task. Lovely.

I received my family's devotional book, and I was hopeful that this would be a way for hubs and I to settle down, focus on something, and grow together, as well. Yet, when I opened it, I immediately knew otherwise...To be continued.


  1. I also have numerous issues with the book given to you for consideration. Some aesthetic (journey? c'mon) others theological, most which you have already outlined. I'm not so interested in whether the congregation's bottom line is helped, I want to know whether the congregation is generous and whether giving matters in the lives of the people in the congregation. I did my own blog post today about similar concerns to your post, as I attempt to continue my learning on the subject. I can see your dissonance with the practices of your congregation. Take it easy on your fellow members of the congregation--they may not have as critical an eye as you do.

  2. I get that the members of the congregation may not have a critical eye on the subject. However, I would expect that the leadership of the church who has chosen this book would have a critical eye.

    Isn't that one reason there is leadership within the church? To be entrusted to make good decisions on behalf of the congregation, and to equip them with the right tools for ministry and "to be the church?"

    I blog this because I can't talk to anyone within my small group or any of my friends at church about this. I don't want to be a destructive force, but after a lot of time and several issues (this is not the only one) the forces are becoming destructive, to me.

  3. What's the next step? I'm a bit surprised you're at a congregation with this kind of theological perspective. But I don't know the entire situation--a variety of reasons produced why you are at that congregation. Will the pastor be hospitable to a conversation with you?

  4. The next step is still TBD. This is one of many issues, and in some ways, I feel it's the "last straw."

    I don't know if the pastor would be hospitable to conversation with me. At the same time, I am not sure if I want to have a conversation with him. Many of the options require quite a bit of effort--talking to the pastor, looking for a new church, etc. I'm being prayerful about what I should do.

    As for how I find myself in a congregation with this theological perspective, it kind of snuck up on me, in many ways. It's ELCA. At first, it was just a bit non-traditional in worship style. But as we've been there now for 2 1/2 years, I am realizing it the evangelical part of evangelical lutheran, in this case, is more like the generic evangelical christian movement, and not distinctly lutheran. Many of the practices, over the last year, have seemed more like a non-denominational community church. Not blaming them for this, but it's just not what I thought I was getting into.