I received an invitation on Friday to attend a 10 year celebration of a church I helped plant. For the first time in nearly a decade, I attended this church yesterday.
It was very interesting. Of course, several people were there that we know. We were greeted warmly by them. We were also greeted by those who did not know who we were.
There were several references to our first meeting in Alabama. As I looked around, I could see the result of that first meeting years ago. People who joined this church since we left had no idea that we were part of that original dozen or so people who met. It was a fascinating trip down memory lane with so many people not knowing that we had those memories.
One of the most interesting things stated during the service was that this church had shaped a lot of people over the past ten years. I realized when this was said that it was definitely true for me. This one church, which I helped plant and had not been to for close to a decade, has shaped my life even though I wasn’t there. I won’t go into the sordid details of why I haven’t been there for ten years. Needless to say, it has not necessarily shaped my life for the best over the last decade. That has been my fault.
Here’s the real deal. I haven’t really enjoyed church over the past ten years. Not the way I want to. Hopefully, by coming around full circle yesterday, I can take the steps to enjoying church like I want to. I look forward to the journey.
How was your church service yesterday?
This is a tweet that I posted yesterday:
“Between sickness and reunions, have not been to church in three weeks.”
It’s been a while since I have missed three weeks of church. In fact, it’s been about a year. It’s been since I left my previous church last August. We have been in a new church now for all of 2012. I’ve missed church now for these three weeks. There is one word to describe how I feel right now.
Why am I weary?
There have been some bumps in the road along the way and I’m weary.
I drive 30 minutes to work and back home every day and I’m weary.
I drive to church 3o minutes to church and back on Sunday’s and I’m weary. Make that another hour of driving if I went back on Sunday nights, which I’ve not done in months. Weary.
Both of my kids and I have been sick over the past few weeks and I’m weary.
I’m just weary. Weary of just stuff.
Jesus invites all who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him and He will give them rest.
I’m weary of all that stuff.
I’m weary of the bumps in the road.
I’m weary of traveling 30 minutes and 20 miles out of my community to go to church after doing it five days a week for work.
I’m weary of little illnesses we’ve faced lately.
I’m weary and heavy-laden. I want His yoke and to learn from Him because He is gentle and humble in heart and it is from Him that I will find rest for my soul. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
I’m weary of being weary.
Do you ever get weary?
For the second week in a row, I did not make it to church. This week we had an annual family reunion of Jan’s to attend. So, I want to take this opportunity to talk about church in general.
Family reunions are funny things in that people just sort of come and go as they please. Sure, there is a time that is set. Some have to get there to kick the thing off, but from there people just kind show up and leave on their own schedule. Usually everyone brings a dish. Everyone just kind of wanders around and visits for a while until it is finally time to eat. Once the meal is over, people wander around some more and visit. There may be all sorts of activity. Kids may play ball. A group may get together and sing. Someone may sit in a rocking chair and nap. There are all sorts things going on.
The Church is a family. Should it be more like a family reunion?
Everyone bring a dish and share a meal regularly?
Groups just spending time together singing in a spontaneous way?
Kids being kids in life of the church?
People wandering around visiting and loving each other?
Fill in the blanks with whatever else you can think of.
Should our churches be like family reunions on a weekly basis?
So, Saturday I went to see my Tennessee Volunteers in their home opener. We got there in time to get drenched by rain. Naturally, we left our ponchos in the truck, along with my hat.
What does that have to do with the First Church Series? Everything this week.
I woke up yesterday with my nose running and feeling wiped out. This is not normal, even after staying out late for a ball game. I tweeted out that I felt like “crude” (auto-correct won’t catch that) and that I thought I was coming down with the crud. There has been a little viral thing that seems to be going around over the past few weeks.
Here’s the thing: I could have made it to church. The problem is that I would have been sitting around people while I was sniffing and snorting and wiping my nose. I know how I feel when people are around me doing that. I wish that they had stayed home.
If it had been a work day, I would have gone to work and pushed through. Sometimes, though, I think I should have stayed home from work. However, I’m the manager of my team and I have this sense that I have to be there, even though they do a great job when I’m not there.
If I had been the pastor of the church, I would have gone and preached. I did go to the campground I serve at and spoke there. I did have “church” in a sense that I met with fellow believers and we looked at God’s word together and prayed together.
My question, today, is where is the line between staying home when you don’t feel your best and pressing on to go church?
We are coming to the end of the last unofficial weekend of summer. It is Labor Day and we have been experiencing Labor Day Weekend. A few months ago we kicked off Summer with Memorial Day Weekend. There was much hoopla in church with paying tribute to fallen soldiers who died in service to our country. Patriotic songs were sung. Prayers were offered for our nation and currents soldiers.
Labor Day Weekend? Nothing.
This is not an indictment on my church. I don’t recall ever having celebrated Labor Day during any other church service. I’ve scratched my head wondering how to do it.
You could sing songs about the work Christ did on the cross.
You could preach a message on how we are the workmanship of God.
You could preach about how Paul said that those who do not work will not eat.
You could discuss the spiritual gifts and how we can use them in our work in the Church.
Those are the ideas I had. Now it’s your turn.
How could you give attention to Labor Day within the church?
Some days I’m just not as focused as I should be. This occurs at work. It occurs in my family. Why should it be a surprise that it happens at church as well. Sunday was one of those Sundays. Here are some of the things that happened and went through my mind.
I am not a touchy, feely type of person. I have to know you for a while to be comfortable with much more than a handshake. I had two occurrences of being touched and patted on this past Sunday. One was by someone I have known for twenty-five years or so, which is a long time when you are only in your mid-forties and haven’t gone to church with that person except this year. She patted Jan and me and I am cool with that. Her husband asks me to help with the offering quite often and squeezes my shoulder. I’m cool with that too. However, someone I don’t know very well punched and patted on from one shoulder to the next. I thought I was going to scream. I only say this as a word of advice to anyone reading this: be mindful of this if you are a touchy, feely type. Not everyone likes it. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. Unfortunately, it was difficult for me to focus on the service after that. I kept feeling myself getting poked and prodded.
Churches are pretty much the same. What I mean by that is that there are godly people in all churches and there are ungodly people in all churches. The problem is that sometimes it’s difficult to determine the difference. Some godly people don’t always strike you that way. Some that are ungodly seem very righteous. Often, you have to wait and watch for their fruit to tell.
Every church has its own “liturgy.” My previous church did this way: Call To Worship, Welcome, Fellowship, Hymn, Hymn, Offering, Special Music, Sermon, Invitation, Benediction. My current church has a liturgy too. I’m getting pretty good at timing everything and knowing where we are in the plan.
I haven’t had a pastor in a while now. My church is searching for one. I would like to have a good pastor. I haven’t had a pastor at all in over a year now.
I wonder about why we do some of the things we do in our churches. Why do so many of our churches have services on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and again on Wednesday? I wonder what today’s pastors would think about having a schedule like Martin Luther or Calvin, where you preach a new sermon just about every day, write books, plus pastor the people?
How about you? Do you stay focused every Sunday? What strange thoughts go through your head?
One year ago last night, some circumstances happened that caused us to leave a church we were a part of for seventeen years. There were many emotions that we felt that night: anger, sadness and some that we could not describe.
Yesterday, we attended the church we joined earlier this year. We could not imagine being a part of it a year ago.
Yesterday, we got Jesus Juked and some of us laughed.
Yesterday, we prayed for humility and holiness.
Yesterday, we worshipped in song and word.
Yesterday, we were glad things had changed.
Yesterday, a year ago was less important
As you read this you should know that there are only twenty-five days until my Tennessee Volunteers will kickoff in their first game of the year. I will be taking that day off work, listen to pre-game shows, grilling brats and shouting for three hours of a football game.
If you Jesus Juke any of that statement in your comments, I might delete it.
I thought of this as I reflected on yesterday’s church service. I can only describe it as the service of SHOUT!
The Isley Brothers and The Beatles probably have the most recognizable versions of the song, Twist and Shout. This song was not played during out church service, but there seems to be something primal in our desire to shout. It definitely comes out in things like our music or the aforementioned football game that I am looking forward to.
Yesterday we sang Shout To The Lord! I love that song. You have probably sung it in your church service. The song tells us that nothing compares to the Lord and implies that this is a reason to shout to Him.
We sang another song called When I Think About The Lord. In this song, the one who thinks about the Lord shouts Hallelujah. Again, the response to the Lord is shouting.
When was the last time you shouted in church?
I’m not talking about something that is for show or anything. I’m talking about a spontaneous response to what is happening in the service?
I don’t think I’ve ever done it.
Football games? Absolutely. I’m so focused on what’s happening that when something good happens it just bubbles out.
Church? Not so much. I wasn’t raised that way. I was taught to think it improper and showy if someone even yelled, “Amen!”
There is a lady in our church who gets so excited that she lets out a “Whooo!!!” in a lot of songs.
She responds like the songwriters encourage us to by shouting.
Do you shout in church services? How about football games? What do you think about it?
This week’s edition of the First Church Year series brought something different. Once again we didn’t go to our church. No, we didn’t skip church or take a break. This week we visited another church.
Don’t worry. We aren’t getting ready to begin a new church search. Been there. Done that blogging series. Don’t want to do it again.
No, this week we visited my daughter’s boyfriend’s church.
The reason we did this was because Lauren’s boyfriend (let’s call him John since that’s his name) John recently returned from a mission trip to India.
Just about everyone who went on this mission trip spoke. I didn’t take notes, so I don’t know what each one specifically spoke about. However, each one expressed what I would call several themes. These included:
- The poverty in India
- The love within the Church in India
- The focus on Christ in the Church in India
There was much more that could be said. However, I get asked sometimes why anyone would want to go on a mission trip to another culture when there are so many to help here. The fact is that in many ways followers of Christ in another culture like India can teach those of us here in the USA much more than we can teach them.
Have you ever gone to a foreign culture on a mission trip? Would you like to go on one?
This week the pastor search committee at our church was gone. I know this because I didn’t see any members of the pastor search committee and our interim pastor announced they were off listening to a pastor somewhere. (Hey, what did you think? That I just automatically know stuff?)
This caused me to think about whether we do this sort of thing right in our churches. I’ve been on a pastor search team before. I’ve seen it done. The question I ask is why is it done this way and if it is the way it should be done?
We call the Church the Body of Christ. That indicates to me that the church is a living organism. Now, I’m not a biology major or anything, but as I remember, the body is capable of reproducing many things on its own, like cells.
So, why aren’t our churches producing their own pastors? Why aren’t churches providing a pipeline for people to fill these roles? Even in my job where I work, we produce our own leaders. If a secular company can do this, why can’t a church?
I don’t lay this at the feet of just the church I belong to now. I have never really been a part of a church that produced its own pastors. I think it would be pretty cool if they all did.
What do you think? Should churches be producing their own pastors?