Monday, April 12, 2010

Theological Dillemmas

I find personal theologies to be interesting. So often, I just want to ask people, "Why do you believe that?" But asking that of a parishioner would probably not be a good thing!

Last weekend seemed to be filled with head-scratching moments.

I was talking to a parishioner and we were talking about making changes in the standard operating procedure of the church. He mentioned how many people just default to the "that is the way we have always done things" mode and will never move from that. Then about five sentences later, the guy was complaining how the "young kids" in the congregation don't wear shoes in the sanctuary, especially during the summer. "You know, we are supposed to wear shoes in church." I don't think he caught the irony of the comment.

Then I had a woman ask me what happens when no one shows up for a church service. (We had only one person show up for the 8:30 am service on Sunday. She decided she would come back for the later service.) The woman asked, "Aren't you supposed to do the service up to the communion part?" I said, "No, when there are no people, we just don't do the service."

WHY WOULD WE DO A SERVICE IF NO ONE WAS THERE? Liturgy means "work of the people," if there are no people, there is no liturgy! I just had to wonder if the woman thought that the worship service was something that we did for God?  Didn't she see that worship is something that is given FOR US?

Then there was the "I was gone and no one called me..." (as in "I stopped coming to church because I was mad at you and I wanted you to call and beg for forgiveness.)  Isn't part of being a Christian supposed to be living a life of humility and service?  The whole "no one called me" thing just strikes me of self-importance.

Granted, it is important to appreciate people, but to leave a church because "no one called" seems childish.  It is almost as if there is some kind of test being placed before the pastor.  Problem is, the pastor is not even aware that the test is being given.  The psych person in me says, "Let people be adults and ask if they need help or are having problems."  But others see this is "not caring."  Kind of crazy-making.

No, this is not a problem here, now, but it occurs in churches quite often.


Urspo said...

I've seen a few times old timers preferring a church to die out then change things to attract new members.

Lemuel said...

Yes, those are common issues in congregational life, especially folks who play what I call "hide and seek". It is a form of immature egotism, but as you note, there is usually no notice that the game is "on".
Your story about the question of conducting worship if no one was there reminded me of incidents in the congregation in which I grew up. At the time of my youth the congregation not only held worship on Sunday mornings but also on Sunday evenings and "prayer meeting" on Wednesday evenings. By the time I got to junior high very few people would show up for either, but the pastor who was there at the time would hold the service if even one person showed up. Finally the ruling body of the congregation mercifully killed both (the evening service and the prayer meeting).

Bear Me Out said...

Oh the emails I've gotten regarding acolyte footwear!
Despite global warming, the Church still moves at a glacial pace.
Hang in. Prayers Ascend.