Reading

After my recent whining about church I felt like I left more unexplained than explained, and that on the whole I shouldn’t have written it without the explanations — things like: there is a profound difference between worship and sermonizing, and most modern churches conflate the two; and, almost all of our best friends go to our church, and we love them; and I don’t get close to people anyway, which is my own doing, and not my church’s fault. But to spell all that out seems like far too much work, and then what incentive would any of you have to buy the book one day?

I confess I was warmed to see my own thoughts echoed in something Frederick Buechner said when asked why he rarely attends church:

One reason I don’t is very often when I go I am bored out of my wits. They’re not telling me anything I haven’t heard before. They are not moving my heart. Plus it gives birth in me to the worst of me. I keep thinking how much better I could do it. And what a terrible thing to go to church and come away thinking, “God, I wish I had gotten up there. I could have really told it the way it is.”

How wonderful that he admits such a thing. It makes me think I may get into heaven after all.

Speaking of imperfect faith, this afternoon I discovered this thoughtful critique of the Christian pretense to perfection. Have a look. And a nice rest. It’s Sunday, after all.

Comments

  1. Ron

    This reminds me of a great line my grandfather, a farmer, gave when asked why he didn’t attend church. His reply was “I figure it is better for me to be out feeding my cows, thinking about God, than to be in church thinking about feeding my cows.”

    Church can certainly help one get closer to God, specifically fellowship and example which can inspire. But it is not the only way.

    Regards,

    Ron

  2. Jim Ratajski

    Tony,

    I considered writing you after your previous post. It appears that a number of your friends have written similar things that I would have written you. We are all to spur one another on to Love and Good Works. This does not come through Legalism, but through the Love and Grace that We Receive from our Father, our maker, our friend. We receive this in many ways and in different times in our lives. One way is through our children. There are many others. There is also the “Do not forsake the assembly together as the habit of some is”. This is not a “command” either (some would say that it is). It is the Grace through Paul to us as one who has gone before and is more an older brother’s exhortation.
    My prayer for you is to find such a place or to labor in the place that He has already put you. It am learning (and experiencing) the same in my life. Grace and Peace to you.

  3. Stephanie

    Your comments on church are something more and more people are finding and you are right, often it is simply boring because we have heard it before and it gives rise to what pushes our buttons on justice and equality and much more.
    You commented about believers “supposed to” be enjoying the company of fellow believers which I too always thought. But the more I look at Jesus and how he lived I see nothing that looks like organized church as it is today. It was so informal, so unorganized and so organic. People sitting down together to hear, or speak, and dialogue on life, on God, and on how you lived that out. I really can’t find church as it looks today in the gospels.
    But I do find that how Jesus lived and modelled for us is not how we are being shown today. I am finding the contemplative life is leading me to see things in a very different light yet calling me to really live the inner life Jesus lived. And I don’t do it very well.

  4. Jim V

    Perhaps the problem isn’t so much in what we’re getting out of church as it is what we’re contributing. I, too, have periods where I feel completely disconnected on Sundays (all I want to do is just get out the door and not get involved in any conversation or “fellowship” on the way — very uncharacteristic of me on a normal day); yet without exception, I never feel more connected and growing than when I’m serving and using my gifts (teaching a class, in particular).

    As a side note on the idea of a “disorganized” or “organic” church, it’s also told to us in the book of Acts that the believers met regularly on the first day of the week (Sunday) to break bread (communion) and study Scripture. Granted, I agree that the church of today does not look like the church of the first century, a brand-new Ford doesn’t look much like a Model-T either but that doesn’t make it any less a Ford.

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