Jump to content

I'm Just As Good Without Church


Recommended Posts

On my family vacation, I heard it once again... "I figure I can be just as good a Christian whether or not I go to church."

I was surprised to hear it come from her - she was once so avid in leading music at the church (and for so many years). However, when she retired from that activity, church was not the same, and she could no longer feel the worth of attending.

 

Now that I'm home, I keep thinking of what I'd like to say in response. I think my shock got in the way, along with my general agreement that church attendance is not necessarily a good measure of how loving a person is, but I think church can call us to be greater than we are.

 

I wonder if we can think further about the idea that people can be just as good whether or not they go to church. Maybe it can be a starting place for us who would like to help church move into the 21st century and beyond. We need to ask ourselves what opportunities exist at our church to help people better live as Jesus taught and focus on those. What advantages are there in banding together rather than being "lone" Christians in this world?

 

For example: Community service opportunities abound outside of church, but is there something more appealing about serving with others from our church when we see it as a form of connecting with God? What about the church advocating service programs that truly address loving our enemies, instead of just those who love us back?

 

To clarify: I'm not starting this as a debate - Jesus didn't invite people to church, and we all know people who are great without ever going to a church. Also, I know that organized religion can be more damaging to some than helpful.

 

I am just trying to start a discussion on how to make church more relevant to the masses, and since I hear this comment so often, it may be a place to begin...

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been blessed with many opportunities that such a statement presents. I usually reply in refference to Luke 10:25-28 ( Love God AND Love Your neighbor i.e. "One Another) the point being;

 

"How Can You Love Your Neighbor/One Another if you don't even Know your neighbor/One Another?"

 

And then there is the actuality that any professed follower of Jesus IS a member of the Church whether they like it or not, this reality then lend the question of just what part you are playing/ministry you are fulfilling ( we all have one) within the Body of Christ/ the Church?

 

And then, finally, to me those who espouse such a position are willfully committing to errors at the same time;

1) they are denying the church the experiences of their life that may prove helpful to some within the church and

2) they are denying the God they profess to Love the joy of that aspect of their personal spiritual development that can only come through interaction with the broader church. ( of course this point often goes unheeded due to the lack of a frame of refference by those who believe they "don't need church".

 

With the Love of Christ,

 

Brother Thomas

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought this discussion may be a good place to bring this up. The problem I see for the "spiritual but not religious" crowd is that typically the most progressive churches have the most traditional forms of worship and music - and often lack activities for kids and families as the congregation is often older. Quite frankly, many of us under 60 do not find these traditional forms of worship and music to be interesting, compelling, or attractive (certainly my wife does not).

 

So I thought I would share my ideas to get feedback on a family group (us younger folks under 60 with kids at home) to supplement what we get from the local UCC congregation on Sundays, and may be something also attractive to those who are not into "church services" or being "religious". The local UCC church is progressive but the congregation is primarily older and they are stuck in very traditional worship service patterns (and not likely to change given the board composition). At the same time they are the only progressive resource in the area so I would not want to "compete" with them. The point would be to try to meet needs that are not being met from just the Sunday services and Sunday school (they do not have resources for kids and families during the week).

 

I'm thinking of a lay-led family ministry midweek evening group maybe once per month starting in the fall. My preference would be for it to meet at a home. The purpose would not to be "overtly religious" or "churchy" or a "bible study" or "book discussion" group. Instead, it would uphold progressive Christian values through fun activities involving both parents and kids like family games, outings, barbeques, picnics, movie nights, service projects, etc. maybe with some really informal sharing of values or stories to the kids. For the adults, I think that we get more of progressive Christian values through discussion, connecting with others, and living out those values rather than sermons or lectures anyways.

 

Obviously we would need to come up with a catchier title.

 

I'd like to get the word around to other younger family folks at the church and in the community to see if there is interest. Outreach ideas would be welcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, great question!

It just reminded me of something Tony Campolo said. He was confronted by a man who said to him, "I can speak to God just as easily standing in a forest as I can going to Church!". Tony responed by asking, "Okay, when was the last time you stood in a forest?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She may be 100 percent correct for herself. For me, being part of a church fills my life with hope, knowing that a community is working alongside me toward the same goal (furthering God's kingdom). I find others there with the same passions for helping the disadvantaged. In sharing with each other about our spiritual journeys I often learn I am not alone, and sometimes others have insights I have not stumbled upon myself. Sometimes church can be damaging, but sometimes it can call me to be more than I would be otherwise. Organized religion allows us to collectively educate the next generation and to collectively mobilize in service. Thus, ideally, the duplication of effort is reduced.

 

I appreciate everyone's ideas so far. I'm not certain I will be bringing this up soon again with my relative, but it has provided food for thought. What are other ways that church helps you be a "better" Christian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave S - I forgot to say in my last post that I applaud your idea. I, too, had been concerned that my church was using traditional forms of worship and music. For the past 10 years, I have been involved in an effort to use newer music in worship, like what is played on Christian radio, or in some instances to use secular music. We have tried to make the format more casual and interactive. However, now we are concluding that even with those changes many will not come into our church doors, because they have negative perceptions of church. Now we're trying to focus on having open discussions at a local coffee lounge or serving outside our walls, in the hope that we will reach people in love, without the baggage of church, and with no strings attached. We'll see how it goes...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with OA that "Church is primarily for community...." I go most Sundays because I feel the need for nourishment. That means good preaching (from scripture, topical, challenging, and, frankly, entertaining) and ironically some of the things that turn others off, such as the more traditional liturgical elements and hymns. But then I am 73. If others can wait another decade or so, perhaps those of my ilk will no longer be an impediment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with OA that "Church is primarily for community...." I go most Sundays because I feel the need for nourishment. That means good preaching (from scripture, topical, challenging, and, frankly, entertaining) and ironically some of the things that turn others off, such as the more traditional liturgical elements and hymns. But then I am 73. If others can wait another decade or so, perhaps those of my ilk will no longer be an impediment.

 

I attend a progressive church that is fairly traditional as far as the worship service. The sermons are scripture based, and the interpretations progressive. We have a good mix agewise. I don't think the traditional will go away entirely. I hardly regard you as an impediment. One our most active and cherished members is a mere 96.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave S - I forgot to say in my last post that I applaud your idea. I, too, had been concerned that my church was using traditional forms of worship and music. For the past 10 years, I have been involved in an effort to use newer music in worship, like what is played on Christian radio, or in some instances to use secular music. We have tried to make the format more casual and interactive. However, now we are concluding that even with those changes many will not come into our church doors, because they have negative perceptions of church. Now we're trying to focus on having open discussions at a local coffee lounge or serving outside our walls, in the hope that we will reach people in love, without the baggage of church, and with no strings attached. We'll see how it goes...

 

Hi AITNOP

 

One difficulty I have as a choir director is that much of contempoary Christian music seems pretty conservative theologically (IMO). I use mostly anthems published by Hal Leonard and Lorenz etc .Anthems by Word and Maranatha are somewhat conservative ,but I just bite the bullet and use them sometimes.

 

Contemporary gospel(Richard Smallwood, Kirk Franklin ,Mary Mary etc) young people can relate to .but again the theology is pretty conservative IMO.

 

Every now and then something by Bach or Handel but I find most contemporary, volunteer singers have a hard time with learing contrapuntal lines of music So I just leave that alone.

 

MOW

Edited by MOW
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi AITNOP

 

One difficulty I have as a choir director is that much of contempoary Christian music seems pretty conservative theologically (IMO). I use mostly anthems published by Hal Leonard and Lorenz etc .Anthems by Word and Maranatha are somewhat conservative ,but I just bite the bullet and use them sometimes.

 

Contemporary gospel(Richard Smallwood, Kirk Franklin ,Mary Mary etc) young people can relate to .but again the theology is pretty conservative IMO.

 

Every now and then something by Bach or Handel but I find most contemporary, volunteer singers have a hard time with learing contrapuntal lines of music So I just leave that alone.

 

MOW

 

I have heard good things about the music produced by The Iona Community, an ecumentical community out of Scotland, particularly a singer/songwriter called John Bell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have heard good things about the music produced by The Iona Community, an ecumentical community out of Scotland, particularly a singer/songwriter called John Bell.

 

I have heard the music of John Bell and heard him speak on a video series called "Living The Questions". Very progressive message, enjoyed the upbeat composition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have some ideas and chord charts for music, if you want to start a new thread for exchange of those. The "song of the year" on CCM is "Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath, and I don't find it too traditional. People LOVE singing that song. Another one in my congregation that is always popular is the oldie "Lean on Me."

 

Grandpawombat, I don't think people who like traditional worship are an impediment either. Many of the younger folks in my church prefer that style. I'm sorry if I made you feel less in any way!!

 

We had 13 people working in the garden that provides food for the local Food Bank this morning. We focused on the ideas of stewardship of the earth and our souls being like gardens that need care and weeding. I thought it was just as worshipful as being inside the building.

 

Janet

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I understand - "I can be just as good a Christian whether or not I go to church." What is a "good Christian"? Are we talking about someone who doesn't drink, smoke, or chew - or associate with those who do?

 

I'm sure it has been addressed in a topic somewhere before, but what do we think the purpose of "church" is, anyway? This question was asked last week in a discussion group at a UCC church my wife and I started attending. The answer that everyone seemed to be satisfied with, was, church is where we learn about God. I came close to vomiting. (Isn't it mentioned somewhere that we can always be learning but never come to knowledge?) The pastor candidly mentioned that it seemed that the purpose of that particular church was to hold Sunday morning services. It does seem that the majority of revenue and most of the planning is toward that purpose. So, if the Sunday morning service doesn't happen, church disappears. Good!! Get rid of it. It's obstructing my view of the church, anyway. When I mentioned that the 'church' seems to consist of actors and spectators each performing their role on Sunday morning, it was mentioned by someone else that what happens on Sunday morning supports a lot of things that go on "outside" church. I couldn't help it - I raised the possibility that what they thought as being "outside" church, was really church, and what happened "inside" church, was really outside church. Confusion abounded. OK, yes, I'm a trouble maker.

 

I like Marcus Borg's idea of 'church' being a sacrament: a finite means of mediating the sacred. Through the visible we see the invisible, or, possibly, in the language of Process Theology, through the actual we become open or aware of the possible. The actual is the Many. The possible is the One. The Many are the diverse experiences we bring to the table (it's the Lord's Table, isn't it?). Each experience is a piece of life. The process is that the Many become One. When we come together, we share a common life. That's the way the early Christians conceived of the Lord's table. To eat together was to share life together. The "life is in the blood" and so the cup became a symbol of sharing the life of Christ - or a life "in Christ". Through the sharing of the bread, the invisible Body of Christ was "built up" or became visible, actual, experienced. In the early church, the "preaching" was done in the marketplace. What a waste of the precious and limited time we have to be together to have to sit and listen to a preacher. The purpose of gathering was to become One - become community - to share life "in Christ". The church then extends the invitation to those who are deluded by the false perception that they are outside of God, who are alienated and without hope, to sit at the table, taste, and see that the Lord is good.

 

So, yes I can sit in a pew and meditate and feel God's presence. I can also do that at home. So, if that's what it's all about, then it makes sense that "I can be just as good a Christian whether or not I go to Church." But, maybe the purpose of existing shouldn't be trivialized by the mere effort to "be a good christian" (whatever that means).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Church to me is a body built on a foundation of direct connection to God. It is invisible and without gates or doors and pews though it might have a location as such. It has no specific locale, clergy, priest or organization in charge. It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is among us at all times and can only be described in words with some degree of accuracy using metaphors.

Such is the only real church, I for one acknowledge though the multitude may beg to differ. Just one view to consider.

 

Joseph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Church to me is a body built on a foundation of direct connection to God. It is invisible and without gates or doors and pews though it might have a location as such. It has no specific locale, clergy, priest or organization in charge. It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is among us at all times and can only be described in words with some degree of accuracy using metaphors.

Such is the only real church, I for one acknowledge though the multitude may beg to differ. Just one view to consider.

 

Joseph

 

Seems to me you've described the indescribable - Spirit, which is described metaphorically somewhere as 'the Body of Christ'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good question - the purpose of church... I'd love to get others to weigh in.

 

My initial thoughts are:

a safe place to gather to exchange ideas and learnings about God

a place to teach the next generation what we think about God

a group of people who share a common purpose (hope of building God's kingdom) - this leads to being able

to easily organize people to touch the world as a group (community service, outreach)

a place to experience sacred rituals (baptism, weddings, funerals) that ground us during rapid life transitions

a network of support for the spiritual/life journey, including testing of one's ideas by others who share a

general spiritual direction

a place to regularly and collectively connect with God (music, prayer, candles, incense)

 

Others?

 

There may be some people who do not need to experience all these things with other people, or maybe they find those other people outside a church building. I'd like to understand from the point of view of those who don't need church whether they feel that any of these things are missing in their own lives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I mentioned that the 'church' seems to consist of actors and spectators each performing their role on Sunday morning, it was mentioned by someone else that what happens on Sunday morning supports a lot of things that go on "outside" church. I couldn't help it - I raised the possibility that what they thought as being "outside" church, was really church, and what happened "inside" church, was really outside church. Confusion abounded. OK, yes, I'm a trouble maker.

 

What a waste of the precious and limited time we have to be together to have to sit and listen to a preacher. The purpose of gathering was to become One - become community - to share life "in Christ". The church then extends the invitation to those who are deluded by the false perception that they are outside of God, who are alienated and without hope, to sit at the table, taste, and see that the Lord is good.

 

I loved the whole post, but I whittled it down here. The church needs some trouble makers, asking the right questions. I think it is good for the trained preacher to give a short teaching every so often, but in so many churches the congregants barely know each other, and that doesn't seem much like sharing life "in Christ." I hope our generation can figure out how to make church more relevant and real than it has been and also how to communicate how it impacts our lives.

 

Janet

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with OA that "Church is primarily for community...." I go most Sundays because I feel the need for nourishment. That means good preaching (from scripture, topical, challenging, and, frankly, entertaining) and ironically some of the things that turn others off, such as the more traditional liturgical elements and hymns. But then I am 73. If others can wait another decade or so, perhaps those of my ilk will no longer be an impediment.

 

Following up on minsocal's comment. I too appreciate the older generation in my church. I teach Sunday school for adults on Sunday morning. My most faithful attenders for 3 years I've been doing this are a couple. He just turned 88 in March. His wife is about the same age. Most of the rest of the people who attend are retired and over 75. I wouldn't have a class without them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Rather than start a new topic ,I think I'll post this here. I work at a community center in an urban area. I've noticed that several "churches" or Christian groups rent space at the facility on a monthly basis. This way, of course, they don't have to worry about mortgages, heat, light, utilites etc. I don't know what you all think about this but it seems to work for them.

 

Most of the groups are Fundamentalist Christian or New Age groups my guess is that the members might prefer this to megachurches.

 

Anyway what to you think of this option.

 

 

 

MOW

Edited by MOW
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's great to use a community center as a place of meeting for a church. I watched a video about "boat church" in Florida, where everyone pulled up to hear a preacher on the shore. Too bad I live in Colorado where we don't have too much water or too many boats or enough hot days in the year to make that work. Then we really wouldn't have to worry about mortgages, light, heat, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Aurora, Colorado, I encountered a "Fireside Church" which didn't have more than 17 members and met in members' homes. Small but mighty. They raised $600-$1000 to help a homeless couple transition. One of them became an advocate for the couple.

 

Again no rent, no lights, no ... overhead.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I figure I can be just as good a Christian whether or not I go to church.

 

I have to 100% agree with this statement, because no where in scripture does it directly tell us we need to be in a local church to be a part of The Church (the Body of Christ - the community). Yes, Jesus does go into the Temple to address the Jews - that is where Jews congregate. The Temple - the Synoguage. But, did he worship God there? No. He went out unto the world, sitting with the tax collectors, speaking with the prostitutes and those not in the Temple and worshiped there. I see worship as a means to exalt God's love - be it through singing, gathering together, doing what God has lead one to to, giving of oneself out of selfless-love, and sharing God's love with others through our example (not just our words). So I have to find myself in applause for this statement being made. Because if we cannot follow Christ outside the "church" walls - really, what good is it to even to to "church?" He doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called - and we (as followers of Christ) are the called. And the equipment we have are our hearts, ears, minds and mouths to use responsibly as He gifted us - and they are to be used in the world, not in a place behind closed doors that excludes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service