I am preaching this Sunday night at North Beach Baptist on Revelation chapter 2, so I have been doing some reflection on who we are as the church.
I’m thinking that if the church is really the bride of Christ… then logically that would make God my father-in-law rather than my father… right?…
Maybe this would also explain why the Holy Spirit keeps nagging me…
You might want to watch out for lightening. 😉
Sometimes my 7-year-old son understands this concept more than I can comprehend. I believe that’s what Jesus says . . . unless we have faith like a child, …
When I was seven, I used to think Jesus looked like a giant, shiny, golden ginger-bread man…
love it Erin 🙂 The gingerbread man Jesus… 🙂
Well, while you were whooping it up at North Beach Baptist…I had a very different church experience on Sunday night…….or non-experience.
Reasons Why Lance Doesn’t Go To Church Anymore
#771 – False Advertising.
I normally work every Sunday, but six weeks of the year I get a Sunday night off. So unlike you folk who have the luxury of church-going each Sunday..and maybe even skipping a Sunday and hardly noticing it….I have to use those 6 Sundays off a year carefully..and not waste them.
I haven’t made any serious church-going effort for a long time (with work a convenient excuse) but I thought it’s time for my own supposed emotional and spiritual good that I make a serious attempt to return to the church.
I even recently killed off a blog of mine that was critical of the church (Signposts2) because I thought I can’t in good conscience attend a church while looking for reasons to criticise it at the same time. (I also, as a secondary reason, killed off the blog because I got sick of dealing with delusional and amoral Pentys who defend the indefensible.)
Anyhoo….I sat down on Saturday and seriously waded through a range of church options..and finally settled on an evening gathering at Warwick Church of Christ.
From their website…
“Our 6:30pm gathering is for the young and the young at heart.
It kicks off prior to that with discussion groups from 5pm where people share and discuss various topics.
Each night around 6:30 we take part in an activity in a casual and relaxed way, whilst being spiritually refreshing and experimental.”
More generally, Warwick Church of Christ bills itself as …
“We are a church family who are on a journey
– a journey of self and other discovery within the Warwick community.
We have more questions than answers
– but we’re striving to journey with our mates,
– to participate in Christian Community,
– and to serve our community in various ways.”
In their page index…they don’t refer to ‘services’ but to ‘gatherings’ and they also have ‘missional teams’.
Now, I’ve been exploring and examining the whole ’emergent’ thing long enough to know that those are the ‘Australian Emergent/Forge’ buzzwords.
And if you’re in any doubt about Warwick trying to present their ’emergent’ credentials…
“In the past, mission has been about us taking God to people and in our arrogance we have forgotten that God is present everywhere. Mission is about rubbing shoulders with others and pointing out where God is already working in their lives.”
Can you feel The Ooze between your toes?
So I arrived at Warwick a bit early….5:55…and there were no cars there and no lights on …so I don’t know what ever happened with the ‘5pm discussion groups’.
I vanished for awhile and got some Subway and returned to the Warwick church at 6:25 (6:15 Christian Standard time) and after mentally grappling with ‘do I really want to go back to church’ I waltzed in.
I could see ahead of me in the auditorium about 12-15 young people standing around a table..
Standing right in front of me at the entrance to the auditorium were an older man and woman.
I stopped at the generally accepted church greeting-point…waiting for some kind of acknowledgement of existence….but it didn’t come.
I stood there like the proverbial stale bottle of piss while they finished their conversation because I genuinely had no idea what I was meant to do. Was I supposed to charge in to the auditorium or wait until I’m officially ‘greeted’.
I waited and eventually interrupted them by asking ‘is this the right place for the 6:30 meeting’? (I didn’t go for ‘service’ because obviously they’re all hip cool ‘meeting’-like.)
They explained that the regular evening ‘service’ had finished two years prior and they now had just an informal meeting/activity…followed by discussion.
Fair enough…although as someone who’d visited Warwick a few times a few years ago, it was quite obvious that their decision to be more ‘missional’ had at some stage killed-off a thriving and active community.
At least the previous times I’d visited…you’d get a warm welcome…..the youth pastor always made a special effort to make himself known…and there was a bit of music and a bit of teaching..and although it wasn’t world-beating…it was still half-decent and worth the effort of going..
Fast-forward to 2008 and I’m standing in a dimly lit foyer being told the activity of the night was a small bunch of young people making a banner for the state youth games…and that’s it……..which is ok….except…I’m not youth (I’m post Logan’s Run age) and these two old sentries in the dimly lit foyer aren’t sending me on my way…but they’re not inviting me in either.
Mmm….ok…what do I do…?
Some more small talk bought a bit of time but it wasn’t breaking the stalemate at the door of the auditorium.
So I thought….’I’m going to have to be the one to take the initiative here to break the deadlock’..and said ‘well…I suppose I’d better leave you guys to it.’
Now at this stage…I felt like I’d come dressed in a suit of armour to a toga party….so when they half-heartedly and belatedly came back with…’oh you’re welcome to stay’…I thought…’this stale bottle of piss has just well and truly emptied itself on the carpet.’
So, I walked out into the night..and I was half-way back to the Warwick Train Station..and thought to myself…’I’ve been conned again’.
I thought..’will I give them a blog spray?’
Nope. I thought it’s about time I confronted these turkeys to their face.
So I steamed back to the church, pulled one of the old sentries back out on to the street to have ‘a discussion without making a scene’..and gave him a spray.
Words to the effect that I was sorry for intruding on his state youth games clique (don’t get me started about the state youth games exclusive cliques) and also sorry for being over the age of 35 and therefore not fitting into their niche` marketing ministry for their ‘gathering’.
I advised him that if they didn’t want the wider community to respond to an internet invitation and walk in the door and into their clique..that they should close the front door on a Sunday night, and not advertise the ‘gathering’ on the internet.
I got a muted half-hearted apology (which I must admit is better than Pentys who just automatically deny the bleedin’ obvious and stonewall)
So the night wasn’t a total write-off. I got to give some pond-scum church leader a spray.
I’m aware there’s quite a few leaders ‘dabbling’ in ’emergent’ stuff. Phil Baker’s Revenue Church is among many that’s borrowing some of the jargon for marketing purposes…and obviously Warwick Church of Christ is doing the same.
Can I make a quite direct plea?
If you’re not going to wholly and totally embrace the concepts behind missional outreach..can you just leave it alone?
Embrace it ..or keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the ’emergent’ stuff…but don’t try on this BS of borrowing a few buzzwords and jargon..and trying to pass yourself off as something that you’re not.
And if Warwick hasn’t got the specific message yet; don’t pass off the Sunday night youth-only meeting as a community gathering or outreach because I would hate for someone…gasp…over 35 like me (actually ..it gets worse…over 40) in the future to find themselves in the same embarrassing predicament as I experienced.
Gee the young’uns at Warwick nearly had their own ‘mother Terri’ in their Big Brother House.
They can go now to the state youth games in peace, without being saddled by any non-youth or non-games person…and Warwick’s ‘gathering’ remains intact…without any of those dubious blow-ins like me from the community that they’re allegedly wanting to reach.
In hindsight, I probably should have gone with Plan A which was the evening service at Mount Hawthorn Baptist…even though independent research shows the Baptists are the most homophobic of any people-group in Australia…….sigh….
ouch Lance – sorry you had a bad Sunday night but please don’t connect us with presumptious statements like your final one without first speaking to one of us to find out for sure.
Travis (Mt Hawthorn Bap)
Well, without getting myself fired….let’s just say I’ve previously had a terse conversation with my work colleague..’the Baptist-In-Chief’ about this..and I have no doubt whatsoever about your denomination’s stance on gay people.
“Maybe this would also explain why the Holy Spirit keeps nagging me…”
LOL!!! This is the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Thanks for the laugh – it brightened my workday.
Lance – long time!! Loved your writing as usual.
And of course, you’re right about either going all out, or not at all.
Oh – but even from the sunny southwest, I need to point out that Trav actually knows what he’s talking about on this one, regarding his reply.
MHBC may not necessarily conform to ‘Baptist-Standard’ in terms of this particular issue (either as a denomination, or just in practice), but there you go.
I agree. What is a significant failing of the Baptist Union is well redeemed by the stance that MHBC takes. Hopefully the example can lead to more of the same.