Sunday, August 23, 2009

A simply unsatisfying church experience

Every Sunday for about 4 months now, Simon and I have left church simply unsatisfied.

And we couldn't be happier.

Let me back up a little...

As a Christian, how do you describe yourself?

By denomination- Baptist, Methodist, etc.?
By description- born-again, believer, follower of Christ?

In my walk at times I would use different words to describe where I am. I have never liked the words "spiritual" or "religious" so have stayed away from those words, but at different times have identified with one description more than another.

I have to admit that for most of my Christian life, mainline denominations have made no sense to me. They are too "gunked up" with either traditions of man or non-sensical rules, so it's no wonder that from the time that Simon and I got married 9 years ago that we started attending non-denominational Christian churches.

We connected with the music, the laid back style of worship and the entertaining sermons. We've seen it all as different churches are influenced by various theologies. We've seen the more charismatic side of laying on of hands and speaking in tongues as well as the big rock stage productions of praise music.

We've learned and seen so much (both good and bad) -and don't get me wrong there is a LOT that mainline denominations could learn from non-denominational churches, but for the most part we have left church on Sunday with a "full belly" and didn't think so much about it until the next Sunday. Not to say that we didn't participate in activities throughout the week - bible studies and volunteering, and have seen God show up in some big ways, but overall, let's just say that the typical Sunday church experience had "topped up" my tank until the following week.

Recently however, Simon and I started to feel that restlessness that so frustratingly and wonderfully means the Holy Spirit is preparing you for a change.

What we felt like the Lord was saying is
"Have you been spoon-fed or entertained for too long? Is Sunday about you or Me?"
"When you leave the presence of worshipping Me, has the itch of knowing Me been scratched enough, or does being in My presense make You long for more and leave you with a desire to serve Me more?"

And so, roughly 6 months ago we started looking for other churches. Sound doctrine and teaching, and an atmosphere of coming to Christ to see not what we could get out of it, but to learn how to pour out what we have been filled with onto others.

Would you believe we have found this in a denominational church? Something both Simon and I have specifically shyed away from?

Now that we've been at our our current church for four months now and officially became members of as today - yikes! - the newness is wearing off and here's what I'm rejoicing in...

Every Sunday, we leave simply unsatisfied. For the first time in a long time, we leave church longing for Him more, itching for Him to reveal more of Himself, and are more hungry than ever for Him. The exact opposite of that gluttonous full-bellied feeling of hearing "a good sermon" and then not thinking about it past that very day.

There are so many scriptures that come to mind and we're excited for this new chapter of seeking Him and knowing Him instead of being entertained by mere thoughts of Him.

Hebrews 6: 1-3
2 Timothy 4: 3-4
Colossians 2: 6-10

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. -John Piper


Note: After I wrote this I needed to come back and comment that the Truth is not found more in a denominational church vs. a non-denominational church. In fact, if you've been reading the news at all, there are very few denominational churches that are willing to speak the Truth, much less defend it. My post is more about the journey that the Lord is bringing me through and how He made me challenge my assumptions. Basically, He's humbling me. But don't go thinking that I'll define myself by my denomination any time soon. Just the fact that I'm a "member" sometimes freaks me out in and of itself... :)

3 comments:

Jeff said...

It's very interesting that you posted this, in light of today's Gospel reading (if your church uses the lectionary-John 6:56-69). In fact, I preached a sermon about "leaving church" today (listen at www.stnicholashamilton.org).

I have never understood why people go to church "to be fed." Church is not about our need to receive, it's our opportunity to give...to God. By giving our all back to God through worship, we are then sent out to feed others during the week...and the byproduct is being fed ourselves.

That's why those traditions of the Church are so important to me. They assist my worship so that I think less about myself and more about God. All of those things that one would find in a liturgical setting--incense, vestments, bells, eucharist, etc.--are all ways to transport us from the human world to the divine world so that we can worship God with more focus. Does that always work? Heck no! But I believe that God shows up every time, whether I do or not.

Made To Organize said...

Great post Kelli. You're so right. Thank you for the challenge.

~audrey

Sara said...

Great post, really great stuff. Really great.

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