Many have asked, “So just what is it you do now?” I try to answer, in brief, below.
— Brant Hansen, in We Quit “Going to Church” a Year Ago
(Hat tip to bish)
Thanks, I appreciate the support. One of these days we need to do dinner again. I think the best advice I have gotten on child birth is that if I feel I want to go natural, do it. If I think the pain is getting to be too much, tell someone that if I still feel that way in 15 minutes, I will want a pain reliever of some sort. Makes sense to me. Well, bouncing baby says hello and mommy is off to read the news.
This week of all weeks…this day of all days…
What a great post. Is this what you’re a part of?
No Jeph, those guys are in Florida. I am simply admiring from a distance.
Sounds like the house church that I went to in high school in Hibiya after the liberalism of West Tokyo Union Theological Seminary got to me. I miss those days.
Really, Jim? I had no idea! Do tell.
ok, so here’s a question for ya. It may come out wrong, and I am sorry if it does, but it’s kind of a devil’s advocate thing I have going here. No punn intended of course.
Why do you feel such a need for a church? Why do you *have* to have one, in one form or another? Is it because you need to be around other like-minded people to justify your thoughts or is it because you want to teach others to think like you? Or is it because you want to be taught?
I don’t ask in a challenging or accusatory way, I really wonder. I believe in things too, and I don’t really feel compelled to seek out a herd of people to confirm or deny or share my beliefs with, I just have them.
Can you be a Christian and not have a church? Can you be your own church? What would happen if you all didn’t spend so much time working out plans on where and how to gather or being frustrated because your church isn’t living up to your fantasies of what a church should be and just went out to be Christians in the world doing Christian things? What if you stopped trying to influence and affirm each other and went out and influenced and affirmed people who may or may not believe what you believe?
Would it make a difference to you? To the world?
What’s the big deal about a church? Is it an effective use of your time and energy? Could you, in fact, be more Christian without one?
Well, lets work from Matthew 18:5
5″If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Who is this “church” he is talking about? It is the community of believers. Christians, like all people, can be weak and need accountability from the body. When Jesus sent out the disciples, he did not send them out individually, he sent them out in pairs. I receive great help from my church. As a body, we can also be a great witness. One of my friends and his family moved and we showed up en masse to help him out. His next door neighbor just gawked. She kept saying over and over “these people are from your church?” It blew her doors off.
Sure, I get that. But I have friends for that purpose. Both to keep me in line, and also to help me when I am in need. When my apartment burned when I was away on vacation last May, 20 of my friends showed up while I was still gone to wash my clothes and pack things for me. When I needed to retrieve my stuff, I had 30 people at my house packing it up.
So my question stands, why do you need a church? Why with largely strangers, why centered around God? If you need people to help you move, you can call on your friends. If you need people to help keep you in line, the same applies. What is it about that specific place that keeps you guys so entertained and upset? Is it that it is unconditional? I don’t think that is true – I have seen many a church banish a member for one reason or another. Is it because you were taught to go every week by yor parents and old habits die hard?
I am wildly intrigued by this propensity for people to give up perfectly good sleep time every Sunday morning and go somewhere that they are largely not happy with.
Really, the reason I ask is that I read a bunch of the blogs linked from here and a good portion of the blogging in them is about how the churches you go to are unsatisfying for whatever reason. Could you use your time better if you weren’t complaining and rather just out in the world being Christians? Are there other options that would be more fulfilling? You all seem like wonderful people, but all this dissatisfaction seems like a horrible waste of time and energy.
As an aside, I was talking to John today, and although a self professed atheist, I consider my friends both my family and my church, in probably a different way than you would, but I think it still applies.
I also mentioned that I spend a lot of time thinking about Christians considering that I am not one. 🙂
I find this interaction amazing, and here’s why:
Jim, meet Noelle. Dear friend and blog one another’s resident atheist, she is the hub of this amazing circle of friends she describes, of which Kay & I are privileged to be a part. You’ll find her group blog on the right (under “face time”).
Noelle, meet Jim. My oldest friend, going all the way back to first grade, he & I shared our formative pre-marriage years together. We grew up digging music, girls and Jesus, and now that I think about it, even back then we shared a certain nonconformist skepticism of church barriers. You’ll find his blog on the right (under “face time”).
And I’ve played D&D with you both!