I realize that I opened a can of worms when I first posted "Why I hate going to church". I had a lot of thoughts and feelings on the subject and had to get them down.
A friend of mine not only read my blog, but forwarded the address to a number of her friends who then began an email discussion on the subject. Between reading their comments and living with my previous post for a while, I have a few more thoughts.
1. The church won't be changed from outside. Or rather, the church will never grow more radiant, as the Bride of Christ, from outside influence. Obviously Christians are influenced from the outside world all the time, but rarely does that influence make us more like Christ. It's not beyond possibility, but the devil never intends us to draw closer to God. So the only way to change the church is from the inside. (Only after a clear direction from God, lest we let the world influence the church through us)
I often find myself trying to grasp the story of Isaiah 6, when God calls Isaiah into service by revealing himself to Isaiah in all his glory. He sees God, seated on the throne, in every iota of his glory, and says "Here I am, send me". Christ himself breathed the Heavens and the earth into being, 'walked' the garden in the cool of the morning, and stepped down from his throne in heaven, before entering our world and setting it right again.
So would it change anything if rather than singing a few songs and hearing about vision statements, we simply got a few 'letters from home'? If we gathered together to remember that there is a 'home beyond the river' would it inspire us to make this world (starting with the Church) more like our Father's Kingdom?
2. I think the reason 'worship services' get boring is the extreme disconnect between Sunday morning and the rest of the week. In other words, I can't get my hands dirty on Sunday, but that seems to be all Jesus does. Without searching the Gospels, I only remember Christ in the temple like 3 times, maybe more. (At least once he was driven out, so he didn't stay all the way through the benediction)
Part of the disconnect, I think, is that the classical church structure revolves around Sunday. We've got a preaching Pastor, a Worship Minister, a Children's Pastor, a Youth Pastor, all who spend the rest of the week gearing up for the 'big deal' on Sunday. At least that's the impression the majority of the congregation has. I know that both of the Pastors I've been on staff with spend a single day, if that, preparing for their Sunday sermon. They've got meetings to attend, shut-ins to visit, and fires to put out the rest of the week. But the average person has no idea. No wonder we think we're serving God by coming to worship once a week.
Now I'm not knocking the average church structure, much more good has come from our Sunday gatherings than we can quantify. I just get frustrated when we spend more money on ourselves than on others. How many times have I heard a Pastor state "If you want to know where your heart is, just look at your checkbook" but what does that say about our churches and their budgets?
Once again I find myself at the end of a post about the Church and I can't think of a better way to end than to quote Derek Webb;
"I found thieves and salesmen living in my father’s house
I know how they got in here and i know how to get ‘em out
I’m turning this place over from floor to balcony
and then just like these doves and sheep you will be set free"
'Beloved' from 'She Must and Shall Go Free'