What I’m about to say is going to make a lot of folks mad and I really don’t care. I love serving God. I love being a Christian. What I don’t love is the services being boring, the outreach being only to a select group of folks and the intolerance that Christians and even other sects of faith seem to have with people they don’t deem worthy.
I love my church but I get really frustrated with the services. There are so many ways that many churches could set the bar higher than they do but they settle for the status quo. Several years ago the church had a recommendation for a children’s choir. This was supposed to be something that would set a standard for other church’s in the area. Our church decided to do the children’s choir but not go for a Director who could take us to a higher level. The woman they chose does an excellent job but it’s very difficult to take a group to a higher level when all they hear is “We don’t have the money”. Instead, the director they have is constantly stretching herself thin, coming through for various different musical functions and doesn’t always feel appreciated for her talents. That’s a shame because she’s a talented musician who isn’t working with a lot of different resources. That could be changed if the congregation didn’t feel like things don’t have to change.
My church is like a lot of other churches. They focus on the youth and the seniors and if you aren’t meeting one of those two criteria, you are screwed for getting your needs addressed unless you go to a different church. And I really hate the ones who fight change. I hate to tell people this, but if churches don’t find a way to reach the folks in the middle who aren’t getting their needs met, then many of the churches will find themselves with the folks in the cemetery. Dead and mostly forgotten.
Being conservative isn’t a bad thing. What is a bad thing is when you aren’t willing to grow up, then you stay in the same mindset over and over. Being liberal isn’t a bad thing. The question becomes when do Christians put their money where their mouth is? It’s great to support various causes. It’s wonderful to help folks who need it most but it isn’t a good thing to only pick and choose because it’s conducive to what a church wants rather than what’s needed. When the church does the God’s Work Our Hands day, it really helps the community with various projects that have needed assistance for a while. Little things make a big difference. Several years ago, my dad got really sick. We couldn’t get to church because of Dad’s illness. After a while, we felt like we were out of the loop because the church said the announcements were in the bulletin or newsletter and if you couldn’t get to church, how the hell were you supposed to get the bulletin unless you had someone either bring it to you or had the church secretary send it to you? That’s what propelled me to start using social media so much for the church.
Boy did I get some flack for that. People didn’t want announcements on the social media site because there were ISSUES. Guess what? I really don’t care. I’m doing what I feel compelled to do and while I do my best to be respectful, I don’t feel appreciated for the gifts I give to the church. I have listened to arguments that posts don’t belong on the church’s site, I have listened to grumblings that children’s shows shouldn’t be live streamed and those same people are posting the videos and pictures on their Facebook pages trying to argue that it’s personal vs the church. Well, guess what? Once you put it out there, it’s out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s personal or not. It’s still visible. To think otherwise is really ignorant.
When I listen to the church services, they literally almost put me to sleep. I sit there thinking how can we get others excited about church when sometimes it feels like the sermons and services are not very engaging. If I were a young person, I would definitely flock to a different church that met my needs. I can not stand for something that I love to be construed as boring. Many churches have that feel. There is something to be said about respecting the older ways of the church but let’s get real. Acceptance and times have changed. We are living in a fast paced world. Changes are afoot every single day. Hymn books have a lot of great information in them but the way they are treated in many different venues comes across as stuffy and outdated. That’s not to say they aren’t right within the context. The truth is none of us know for sure what’s right or wrong in the hymnals and bible and we won’t know until it’s our time to cross over.
When our youth went to the National Youth Gathering, they were pumped on their trip home. They had experienced complete joy and engaged with youth all over the country who could help lead change for the better. I’m not saying everything has to be about rock and roll, or major productions in churches, but if we find ways to engage the younger crowd and make them feel as if they have a huge role in the succession of the church, I don’t believe that we will be seen as stuffy as we currently are.
I have music flowing through me every single day. I love the thought of worshipping with joy and not just words. Some of you are going to think that I’m strange because I really don’t like the song Amazing Grace. I don’t like it because it sounds so blah in many different versions. I have heard good renditions but it mostly has come out sounding rough when we sing it a church. It’s almost to where if I was looking for a song to sing when really depressed, I can guarantee you it wouldn’t be that one. Like I said, I know this blog will make some people mad but I’m just being really honest.
Our pastor has made a lot of people mad over the years and to be fair to him, he is really trying to fix bridges but there are some things that can’t be repaired no matter how hard you try. He and I have talked over the years and he knows I will say something if I see something that isn’t good. My biggest fear is that the pastor is supposed to be a leader and not a follower. When the pastor can’t stand up for what is going to help the church in the long run because he’s afraid of the backlash, then it isn’t healthy for the church. That’s one thing with him I’ve seen that he doesn’t know when to pick and choose battles. It’s a learning curve but those are the kinds of things that don’t help Christians not seem so stuffy.
I was once told that I shouldn’t try to interfere with things I don’t understand. Maybe not. But I know in my heart that when the status quo is all that is dealt with, then that’s the only thing we get back. There isn’t a single one of us on this earth that is just a number. We are all unique with different skill sets and attributes. Our attitudes with one another and with ourselves is imperative to growth. I am so tired of dealing with people who have absolutely no desire to push themselves or each other by not being willing to change. I am tired of feeling that just because I’m not a youth or a senior that I don’t matter. I am really tired of people assuming that because I’m a Christian I believe a certain way. Here’s the truth. I am a Christian. I am not perfect. I don’t believe that I’m better than anyone else. I don’t believe that it’s my right to judge someone else and I don’t believe that I have the right to tell someone else how to live. I do believe that every person deserves respect. Even those who have been disrespectful need to be shown some respect. We can not change the future if we are so stuck in the past that we are ashamed to be seen. I do believe everyone has a right to be heard. Whether it’s in a passionate statement, a story, a song, through art, etc,. Each one of us has the right to contribute to change. It takes one person to change minds. I really don’t believe in putting others down. Life is hard enough. We don’t have to add salt to the wound. You don’t have to like someone to say something nice even though it can be challenging.
Then I go on social media and I see how many times Christians get slammed for being discriminatory and homophobic, and racist, and hypocritical. There are a lot of Christians who are. There are also a lot of other religious and non religious sects who are just as guilty yet Christianity gets attacked just as viciously as some of the other religions. We all need to stop bashing one another. It’s not solving anything except making more problems than solutions.
So, now that I’ve had a chance to vent and give you all a glimpse of some of what bothers me with the way Christianity can be stuffy, I really hope that you can all find ways to see that if we don’t find ways to grow with one another, then we will be forever doomed to repeat many mistakes that are currently being made and have been made in the past. It’s still not going to make me not want to go to church and celebrate but it also isn’t going to keep me from speaking up when I feel it’s necessary. If society is expecting the more conservative groups to conform, then it needs to find ways that make it worth their while. There has to be some give and take. We can’t expect things to change overnight if we aren’t willing to be part of the solution.