Dec 8, 2006

who needs church? - part 2

I've appreciated the dialogue we had in the last post about this beautifully blemished thing called the church and why we can often struggle with feeling compelled toward it (while simultaneously wondering if we should just walk away and "let it be"). I totally get that, because I think if we operated purely on reactive thinking or frustrated emotions we might easily come to such a conclusion. But when you slam those two senses together with an innate sense of our eternal selves (which is often called a soul), the church can be understood in a greater context than historical events alone.

We all know we don't live in a perfect world. At least, yet.
"Yet" - that's the thing we have to remember.

Heaven is when everything comes together and"church gets it right." In the meantime we're on the journey and shouldn't expect heaven to happen just yet. Perhaps glimpses when Christ-followers actually follow Christ, but never perfection.

On that note, I wanted to share this list I found from an article in Relevant Magazine. Written by Adam Cleveland, it's entitled "Looking for the Perfect Church That Doesn't Exist."

The top ten things I look for in my perfect church:

    1. A church that isn’t too far away from my home, preferably a 10 to 15 minute drive.
    2. A church that is actively involved in local and international social justice issues.
    3. A church that offers a wealth of exciting, informative and life-changing Adult Education options, available at a variety of days and times throughout the week.
    4. A church that is thoroughly intergenerational—all students in high school and younger would be paired with an older adult mentor.
    5. An engaging, exciting, relevant, progressively-oriented, open and inviting twentysomething group that is co-pastored by a young couple just out of seminary, and staffed with engaging, exciting, relevant and progressively-oriented volunteers and parents from the congregation.
    6. A church where everyone loves the young people in the church and encourages them to bring their unchurched friends to church (no matter what they look like) and has no problem letting the youth group band lead in worship.
    7. A church that has a traditional service, a contemporary service, a modern worship service, a perfectly-blended worship service and an alt.worship gathering.
    8. A service that is not too short, but not too long either – preferably an hour and ten minutes.
    9. A pastor who is theologically trained (but doesn’t flaunt it), has an appropriate sense of humor and a wealth of life experience that makes for applicable and gripping stories that bring the scriptures to life.
    10. A church where those who hold radically diverse theological beliefs sit next to one another, worship together and love and respect one another and their differences.
Intriguing... what's your spin on this? Personally, I'm not sure I buy into #7 and would rather it read "A church that has a service that spurs people on to being the Church all throughout the week." Then again, I don't know if I'd limit the dream to 10 things (although it does make for a nice little list).

Any idea of what your list would look like?

And perhaps the question behind that question is "Why are those things important to you?"
I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good. (Psalm 54:6)
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:5a)


Jessica said...

my struggle is figuring where to dump the bitterness of being a preacher's kid, trying to fulfill a call as a woman where i'm glanced over though i know it's not about me and my pride, removing hurts caused by critical, self-righteousness, narrow minded people who so fall short of the mark and knowing at the same time that most days i'm doing good to not critize, wonder why people just don't get it, think i'm right and not screw things up myself.

my struggle in a nutshell is being a procupine if you will when it comes to community yet i'm honest) that same community.

DJG said...

No...but now I have homework...

Mike DeVries said...

I'm with you on #7. It quite possibly turns the church into a purveyor of religious goods and services, like a church-sized buffet line.

"Um, I'd like a little alt. worship on the side, but not too much. It didn't sit very well with me last week. Wow, we've got a big helping of contemporary there today, don't we?!?"

Makes me feel a little niche marketed.

I'm with you... "a church that lives the teachings of Jesus and strives to be the church in the larger community."

sam h said...

i have a kid and am in ministry, jessica. any ideas on how to help them avoid turning out cynical to the church?

BarBarA said...

1)A church where there are people who look around for the hurting and reach out to them to help in their healing process so that they in turn can turn around and help the next hurting person that comes in the door.

2)A church that spends more money on giving to the needy than on buying stuff for the church

Larry said...

A church that worships God, instead of worshipping the idea of worshipping God.

Jessica said...

sam - the biggest thing is to have clear boundary lines between home and church. there's no way to keep them seperate and don't know that ministry and personal should neccesarily be seperate so what i mean is that there are times that are just sacred to the family and barring emergencies within the church or community, those times are not sacrficied. have a date with wife, have a date with kids, have dates as a family. be able to say no to things that might be good but might not be neccessary and as a result put undue strain on the family or take time from the family. laugh, find opportunities for your kids to see you enjoying the ministry b/c they will see the times you struggle so make sure they see the joy. i think you just have to remember that your family has to be and should be your first priority.
What does it profit a preacher to save his community and lose his children? I believe God rewards us for our sacrficies and I beleve they are times to sacrifice, even "family" (think of missionaries in Ecuador - End of the Spear - Elliot) but too many times families are sacrificed for the sake of the church and it's an unneccesary sacrifice.

and at the end of the day make sure they know that's it's a calling and not merely a profession. i think that has been part of my saving grace and why i still am willing to do the struggle b/c at the end of the day what else is there if you've been called. as my father told me once again recently when i was considering taking a very huge leap off a huge cliff with no net or parachute spritiually speaking - you'll never be happy till you do what you know you're suppossed to do. It's a God thing and sometimes, I think, for preacher's families that gets lost or just bruised. and you know what, funny thing is, despite all the crap and pain and tears and anger, I wouldn't trade being a preacher's kid for anything. i have a legacy. like i said, sometimes it gets lost with all the other stuff.

sorry tony for using your space for my litte bit of thought.

Tony Myles said...

Completely appropriate... please keep going! I'm taking notes. :)

Tony Myles said...

Larry - love that thought!

Robert said...

a congregation where being *saved* is the first step and opens the door to social justice actions along with evangelistic outreach, progressive discipleship as opposed to get out of hell card

I echo the desires of those who are single. I am in a lil church with almost all families ,many older, singles ministry is nonexistent. Other churches that are huge with singles ministries seem to be very artificial wish there was a happy medium. Good thoughts tony!!

Anonymous said...

"Heaven is when everything comes together and"church gets it right." In the meantime we're on the journey and shouldn't expect heaven to happen just yet."

I love that! So helpful.

Heather said...

Huh. Funny how that church looks a lot like my wish list. Except for #7 because I want everyone to worship together (with the songs I like, of course), and maybe a little more focus on the wisdom of and service to the older generation.
Bueller? Bueller?

The Cubicle Reverend said...

I'd add a good community as well. People willing to be with each other outside of the church walls, just having good old fashioned fellowship. Hanging out. Plus, people willing to be involved in discipleship. I didn't even realize that it was something I needed until much later in my christian walk.