One persistent problem with long-term attendance at one church is that you tend to become blind to what other churches do. A somewhat silly example: if your music is modern and tends to sound professional you will tend to forget how many churches scrape by with an only average piano player. Conferences and suchlike help to break this down a bit, as do the sheer fact that people do move churches and do go visiting. But many do not.
I went visiting last night. I felt like looking at what some other church did. It’s not that I’m necessarily looking to change churches… well, okay, truth be told, I’m open to the possibility. I’d really like my own church to be less insular and much more part of the rest of the world. That said, I know there are churches who ignore other churches.
Anyway. Not sure where to visit and aware there are always more around than you think, I went Googleing. And found a so-called “non-demoninational” church almost within walking distance. They had a website that was functional – useful, even, including service times. So I went.
It was a very small service. Barely eight people, including me, and all men except for the only average piano player. The only person with a mic was the preacher, and that was probably so it could be taped. The music could best be described as hymnal. It reminded me strongly of the Baptist church I used to go to when I was a child. Not that this was a bad thing. The people afterwards were friendly and not over-bearing. The sermon topic was up-to-date, but still fairly conservative. But it really wasn’t what I was looking for.
On the other hand, it did give me a little bit of hope about my own church and where we might be headed in the coming months. The senior pastor has been the job less than a year and the very-long serving associate pastor has left. So one part of the transition is complete.
I also know the new senior pastor is not afraid of daring things. I’ve wondered before just how daring. In the first men’s breakfast for quite a long time, he spoke about the rôle of men in our society. Having been on some of that journey myself, I got an idea he wants to really open up some eyes about this. Trouble is, this is the sort of topic that I think needs to really challenge men, or it doesn’t work. And that means those he wants to challenge need to want to be challenged, or (again) it doesn’t work. This is from my observations and experiences in The Mankind Project and The New Warrior Training.
But I’ve also been more willing to find some of my own paths in this world, without falling back to my church. Some of those have clarified beliefs that disagree with my church. And that’s what I was looking for in another church: one willing to be an “unsafe” place with “unsafe” ideas and practices. The kind of church my mother would warn me away from.
Sadly, the church I visited last night didn’t seem to be like that.