Tag Archives: church

Reflections on Corporate Worship

Corporate worship is not only the crux/cornerstone of what we DO as the Church, but of who we ARE as the Church.

If this is the case, why are so many people dissatisfied with what that looks like in practice; some to the point of abandoning ‘going to church’?  How have those who officiate church services gone wrong?  How have those who attend (or used to attend) church services gone wrong?

Church History according to Me in my Small Corner

“Church” was fairly simple to begin with, just sort of hanging out and enjoying it.

A while later, some world leader guy converts to Christianity (apparently for fairly ambiguous reasons) and decides everyone should join him.  I’m guessing there’s some sort of link here to how the church became a little bit more like the church that was kind of early, but without being the Early Church?

So the Not-so-Early-but-still-earlier-than-now-Church, all used to be in a language only the clergy understood, so some guy caused a bit of a stir until eventually the bible etc were beginning to be in the vernacular and things got a bit better.

No, I don’t mean Eugene Peterson.  But he did a pretty good job too, à mon avisRob “WHAP” Lacey, not so much.  And I don’t know if its fair to say, but some people might be taking it too far.

Don’t tell Ballymoney I said that.

Then for a while, lots of people decided that they didn’t particularly like the way things were being done, for lots of different reasons and so went off and did it the way they liked.

Fair enough?

Some thought things were too fancy, some thought things were too dull, some thought things were too emotional, some thought things were too intellectual.

Recent History according to MIMSC

More recently (à mon avis), people thought things weren’t friendly enough and so started a movement of church services more geared to ‘fellowship’ and making sure people were included and words like ‘missional’ and ‘integral’ began to emerge as part of the vernacular.  Except that in defining themselves in these ways means that people’s expectations of being welcomed and befriended are raised waaaaay high to the point where they’re just all the more disappointed when they feel excluded/undervalued etc.

Increasingly, churches are shaping their corporate worship around the desires/preferences/felt needs of those who attend.

Increasingly, people are walking away from corporate worship.

These are statements, not critiques.

My question is that if my opening statement is true, where do YOU think our corporate worship is failing to be a true expression of who we are as the body of Christ in the world?

Discuss…?

Once you’re done discussing, you can research the first Christian Church Meeting (unless you’re of a sensitive disposition).

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Another (similar) Kerfuffle…

Not wishing to diminish the impact of my announcement of The Great Crash of January 2008, but just something for those with some time on their hands to consider and wrap up neatly for those of us who take much longer to form an opinion…? 

At a friend’s house for dinner the other night, she drew to my attention a Kerfuffle within the Presbyterian Church which the Belfast Telegraph have been reporting on over the past few weeks.

The crux of it is that one minister (male) refused to let another (female) preach in ‘his’ pulpit at a joint Christmas service.  The event of a joint service between these two churches in the same town has been happening for years and years, but only recently has the female minister been installed at the church.

Some interesting questions raised by both journalists and citizens who wrote in.  The following are in date order.

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The earliest article I could find (kind of ugly, but later articles paint a different picture of the lady’s reaction).

Regrets expressed over inability to find compromise.

The ‘unholy row’ – call for consistency within Presbyterian Church policy.

Some comments from the Moderator

Letter of support

Journalist (and choir member) opinon – quite random, done in context of the new Irish Presby hymn book!christinab_262288d.jpg

“I will not back down”

Letter of disappointment with how the situation has been handled. 

More general article on the challenge facing the Church in secular society.

… 

You see, randomly enough – this stuff makes me think about the should-have-been post on the blame-claim culture RE The Great Crash of January 2008 (my neck’s doing well, thanks)…

Larger questions about the assertion of ‘rights’ by Christians.  Jesus gave up his rights to defend himself and was pretty selective in the battles he fought, right?  So how do we know when to stand up and fight and when to make sacrifices or put up with losing face?

Much wisdom, grace and love required methinks.  Especially in current politically correct culture.

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Second Rate – Two things to remember…

This is all a little overwhelming for me, all this discussion.  Never in a million years did I expect such traffic through my small corner!  I’m glad it has come up (kind of) and I’m glad its given others a chance to ruminate, illuminate and elucidate!  Most of all I’m glad that this is bigger than me.  Permit me, however, to share where I’m at in it all since it all began…

I think there are two reasons to proceed with caution here…

Firstly, its so helpful to have input from people who have had time to think through this stuff and are further down that road in general.  I’m aware that I’m not quite ready to do all the reading myself.  Not because I enjoy the torment of not really knowing, but rather that I’m still relatively new to this whole issue, as are – and no doubt will be – a lot of women out there.  To have spent my life so far eking out what it really means to be feminine from all the messages bombarding me only to come face to face with people who believe that my worst fears of not being what I should be are confirmed ‘clearly’ by God in the Bible – that is pretty damn difficult.

I’m in mourning. I don’t mean that I spend every waking moment thinking about this stuff, so sorry if that sounds pretentious, but it’s the best way I can describe it – mourning.  I could discover a whole list of convincing arguments, but the fact remains that there are people (not just men!) within the church of Christ who exclude and judge not only me but everyone of my gender: they have done so and will continue to do so for years.

Ouch…

It is good to know, though, that I’m not alone on the road much less travelled.

Secondly, the problem with having lots of convincing reasons as to why my instincts are right, is that the temptation to clamber up on a high horse is immense.  For whilst clever reasoning shows that Jesus’ ministry displays much counter-cultural grace and acceptance of women, doesn’t it also model the rejection of judgementalism and self-righteousness…?

I wrote about a friend who told me I was thinking too deeply; but in his defence, I hadn’t thought it worth much consideration either.  I don’t think I realised that it would ever really affect me until very recently.  Naïve, I know – especially for a woman.  But if I have been ignorant, then can I really condemn men for not considering the issue at length when they’re even further from the equation?

I nearly walked away from a conversation in church this morning about this ‘kerfuffle’, because my feelings around the debate are still red raw and more often than not, tears spring unbidden (as in, more so than usual!) – not so much because I know what ‘side’ the person in front of me is on, but more because I don’t know how I’ll handle it if they disagree with my gut instincts.

The hijacking of ‘feminism’ which gives the term a very negative, militant connotation is deeply regrettable and is not something I want to be associated with.  Especially not in the name of the gospel.  I don’t want to react in a way that makes men everywhere to feel guilty over the way this has all panned out.  Okay, let’s be honest here – part of me wants them to feel the crapness of it all and to wallow at length in the mire that has been perpetuated ever since the Fall.  But is that the gospel?  Nope.  Not as I understand it.

How then…?  What do I do with all this?  Where do I go from here?  Am I ready to move on?

I’m still not sure.

In the end, I had that conversation over coffee in church.  It was good – it was just a young man and a young woman discussing the fact that their thoughts on the matter are inconclusive. And you know what?  If a conversation like that helps just one person to open up to thinking about the role of women in church, then I’m going to try not to walk away from that.  Even if it means being in a public place, a snivelling wreck covered in snot.

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Second Rate

A sharp, wavering intake of breath as I stumble across a blog post about the role of women in the church.  I barely dare to read on for fear of hearing someone say that, yes – God does think I’m second rate.  That He’s made me the way I am just as a cruel joke: to hurt me, to frustrate me, to play with me, to trample me into submission and teach me – by hook or by crook – a lesson about humility.

All around the issue I see inconsistencies and ignorance (“I’ve never really thought about it, but my dad says this…”), inverted pride and nonchalance (“It doesn’t really affect me…”), tradition and stubbornness.  I live in fear of judgement, exclusion and hurt; I live in fear of being labelled too independent, disobedient to God, a feminist

But mostly I live in fear of finding out they’re right.

I once tried to share with a male friend just exactly how much heartbreak these thoughts inflict only to be told that I “think too deeply about things”.  My attempt was obviously horrificly inadequate. 

Even my book of Big Words cannot help me.

A degree of comfort is found in the fact that there is at least one of my male contemporaries who is willing to give more than a passing thought to these things. 

I hope its not as lonely a journey for him.

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