My church life has been interesting since moving to a new diocese. My involvement in the church has basically vanished outside of going to church and sitting in the pews each Sunday, but after going to three or four different services each Sunday along with being in other churches during the week, it actually feels good to just be a “Pew Sitter” each week.
What I find really interesting now is how I notice things in churches. Well let me put it this way in that I really notice more how different congregations do the same church service. My mom was somewhat amazed that I choose not to goto her church, but that I choose to go to a church that has a much smaller congregation. For me, the size of the congregation really didn’t matter, but I had learned from a sermon that a priest had given that helped me to understand some as to why we choose the congregations that we attend, and as I think upon things I understand why we can lose people from the church.
I believe that it was during the last General Convention it was decided to put a committee to “rethink” church and how we do things. In reality this is nothing new as congregations have been thinking about this and doing it for as long as the church has existed. Now I am sure that they will come up with great ideals, but I am hoping that they always remember that having a “one size fits all” conclusion is not the thing to come up with in the end, but I am sure that is what will happen.
The problem that I see is that the group will come in with “experts” who will basically tell them what to do. Oh sure there will be surveys done, but my belief is that even though they may try to survey all, most Laity will not be informed of what is going on, for in many cases we are a church of solos. I have noticed that many clergy don’t communicate things to there congregation about what is going on outside of it in that they fear that the people might find something that they like better. This is part of the problem, as when youth leave for university elsewhere they come upon new ways, and many times it’s in other denominations.
Wondering what they are finding in the other churches? It is real simple in that the Holy Trinity moves them. This is also the same reason that for many of us were attend the congregation that we do. The congregation that my mom attends is very ceremonial, whereas the congregation that I attend isn’t. Some people need all of the “Smells and Bells” and to feel as they are in an important place, whereas others just need something that is real simple. What I also find is that some are so strong in their convictions on how things should be done, that they do what it takes to force change and think that everyone will see the ”light” and believe the same way that they do. These people fail to realize that they are driving people away. In the congregation that I was in, in my previous diocese. I watched as someone came in and killed the Spirit of the place. It was sad to watch as more and more people left the place.
Now I am not saying that change is a bad thing,in fact I really believe that change is healthy for a place and for the church. My problem is with those who have a vision and are unwilling to be open to the visions of others. A vision within a congregation needs to be the vision of ALL, not just a few. The church will only suffer and become damaged if the vision of the future of the church is not decided by the many, but still each congregation needs to make up its own mind as to its own future ways.
I also believe that in order for the church to survive, the group that is putting together and thinking about how the church should be in rethinking the church needs to be mostly full of the youth and young adults from within the church. Yes some of the seats need to be reserved for those who have been in the pews for a long time so that we don’t lose all of the traditions that we have, but we must also incorporate new traditions so that the church can survive.
One thing that I must say is that I have been lucky over the years when it comes to Bishops. I went from one great Bishop who moved me spiritually in ways, to another great Bishop who has moved me in other ways.
So tell me, what is it that keeps you in the congregation that you are in?