Monday, June 7, 2010

A weekend's worth of thought

It has been brought to my attention that I've been neglecting my blog! Things have been so busy as we continue to adjust with my working full time now. The adjustment period has been a good one though and I have to say that even I'm impressed at our ability to work together and each pitch in a little more every day so that our lives can run smoothly! It's official: we're a good team.

Our summer has already been filling up with extra activities and weekend trips. Last weekend we were up in Door County and this coming weekend we are headed to Tennessee for a long weekend with my family and to celebrate my grandparents 50th anniversary. This past weekend though we spent with mostly just the two of us. I don't think I can emphasize how much I love my weekends with Jason! They're the times that we can put all the stress and worries of the week aside and just enjoy being with each other. This weekend was filled with late night Dairy Queen runs, deep talks and making up our own dance routines on the living room floor. He is my absolute favorite person to be with.

One of the things that we kept talking about this weekend was the state of the Church. It all started when we made plans to visit a Church in the Milwaukee area. We've been looking for one to call home and after visiting several, we still have not found one that we 100% like. I was excited to visit this particular one because it's website was really cool and it seemed like a unique Church. Jason was a little bit hesitant though because on their website they described themselves as relevant.

Before I go any farther, I want to elaborate a little bit on both of our Faith histories. We both grew up going to pretty traditional Churches; similar in many areas. Jason's parents and grandmother have always gone to the same Church and probably always will. Jason also attended as well into some of his adult life and his experience there has shaped much of his views of Church. There is some family history in the Church I grew up in as well. My grandparents attend, my dad has his whole life, and my mom has since they were married almost thirty years ago. While she has attended this conservative Church for thirty years don't you get things confused for one second: my mom is not in anyways a conservative Christian. While I was growing up, whenever she could she would take my brother and sisters and I to much more contemporary services as well as countless Christian rock concerts. It's because of her that I think my views of Church are very well rounded. I've had the opportunity to see a lot of different types of services and worship.

Alright, back to relevant. Jason is not the first and won't be the last Christian who initially finds themselves skeptic at a Church who labels themselves as relevant. Why is it though that it has become such a "scary" idea? Why is the term "traditional" much more comfortable and acceptable? I think it has much to do with the Emerging Church movement and the advances (while not always positive, in my opinion) that they have made in the Christian Faith that have conservative Believers shaking in their pews. Church as we know it has gone from a place where formal attire is expected to jeans and t-shirts, from hymnals to rock n'roll and from hellfire and brimstone to unconditional grace. It's easy to find people and Churches that support one end of the spectrum but the challenge I believe isn't to pick one side or the other, but where your heart is.

I think that there is and should be a natural progression in Christianity and in our Churches. I think that as Christians, we should not fear change but embrace what else God can do. I think that the problem lies when we begin to point fingers and defining one way as right and one as wrong. "Because we've always done it that way" should never be the reason for anything done in a Church. Our focus has to be honoring and loving God and when our focus shifts, that's when things go awry. The Pastor at the Church we attended emphasized this so strongly on Sunday and it really had Jason and I thinking. He spoke about being bold in your faith and your ministry and how your effectiveness relies solely on the Holy Spirit moving through you. It's not about what YOU can say but how much you can rely on God to work THROUGH you. And shouldn't that be how our Churches operate as well? Our former Pastor, James McDonald described Church this way: the sole purpose is glorifying God; everything else is optional. Electric guitars? Hymnals? Jeans? Doesn't matter. Is God being honored? Are people growing in their faith? THAT is what matters.

Throughout all of our discussions this weekend, something in me just clicked. The term relevant doesn't have to be scary because Christianity IS relevant. The Bible IS relevant. God's grace is so relevant and pertinent in my life right now, today. I need to know His words just like they did two thousand years ago. Describing a Church as relevant should just be stating the obvious. Duh.

I want to give a plug to the Church that we went to this weekend: Mercy Hill It was unique from the moment that we walked into it's open, warehouse type building. There was a myriad of people there from clean cut, button-up wearers to barefoot babies to some precious senior citizens. It was a service that was different to Jason and I because it wasn't the normal 60-70 minute Church service where you sing, take an offering and have a sermon. We sang for 30 minutes or so, took a break and fellowshipped with other Church goers while feasting on a buffet of breakfast goodies. We then came back in for the sermon. In all we were there for almost two hours which I know might sound crazy to some people. But I left feeling not like I could check Church off my weekly list but like I had communed with God and His children. Was it a perfect Church? I don't know if one exists, but their purpose was to Honor God and I believe He was. And we are excited to go back!

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