About Me

My photo
I LOVE God, I have been married for 5 years to a wonderful woman, I am a recent college graduate of Lakeland college with a degree in Religious Studies,I have currently foregone going to Seminary, but feel called to work with teens and young adults and do so at my local church, Vineyard CC, in Grafton, WI.

Total Pageviews

Monday, June 20, 2011

God's still speaking, but are we still growing?

Think about your church. What draws you there? Is it the way that they interpret the Bible? Is it the values that you share with them? Is it the old world church feel, sitting in wooden pews facing the sanctuary? Or, is it the rock music that ignites the Holy Spirit deep within  you? While the things that could attract you to your church and keep you there are not limited to these things, they do represent four distinct characteristics that contribute to the whole of a church community.

These ideas were brought to my attention by Doug Pagitt when I heard him speak at the WI conference of the United Church of Christ two weekends ago. His talk introduced us to the ideas in his new book "Church in the Inventive Age." If you would like to know more about this book or purchase it, check it out here. In this book and during his talk Doug breaks down the components of culture into the four categories that I represented above with the four questions. As Pagitt puts it, culture, or for our purposes church, are broken down into four categories: our knowledge, our values, our ascetics, and our tools. So, whats the point? Well, the point is that each cultural age brings with it a different church age that is defined by a highlighting or adapting of a particular category, changing the "feel" of church for that time. As each age gives way to a new age it leaves behind churches that do not necessarily follow the transition into the new age.

This lack of transition is not a bad thing. It allows for areas to define themselves and determine what is going to make up their church culture instead of feeling like they need  to conform to the needs of others outside their community. Not everybody can be the same, which is always a good revelation, but what I would like to talk about is the problem with evolving in one area and not in others.

In the UCC our slogan is, "God is Still Speaking." This speaks miles towards what our congregations feel comfortable with evolving within our denomination. What I am saying is that within the UCC we are more comfortable with evolving our knowledge base, the way we interpret the Bible, and what values are sacrosanct as a result of our reinterpretations. Keeping this in mind, when one thing is allowed to evolve, something gets left behind. In the case of the UCC, I find that how we worship; place, time, style, and tools; is stuck in a time warp. This works for some, but I believe an evolution is due.

I love my denomination. I love what it stands for and who it stands up for. I love the fact that everyone is welcome within the walls of our denomination. That is unless you are young/a young thinker that gets bogged down from an "old" worship community. I mean no disrespect in this regard, but I do not see an evolution within the ascetics and tools that we use. A majority of our churches are designed straight out of "Little home on the prairie," They tend to be very monochromatic in both visual ascetics and musical selection.  I think this comes from a scary statistic, it is an "old" denomination. Not in its existence, but literally in the age of the members.

See I have seen this reality first hand. When I went to the state conference I was the youngest person in the room. I wasn't the only one with piercings, but I most certainly was the only one sporting a mohawk and tattoos. While these things are not exclusive to the young of heart or age they can be considered good indicators. To take this one step further, my pastor even challenged me to find at least one person with a similar disposition as myself, tattoos and one other distinguishing characteristic, needless to say, I failed in my mission. That is not bad, but it does make it hard for someone like myself to feel welcome, even among the welcoming.

Change is never an easy thing and should not be done for no reason at all. That being said, in this instance I believe it needs to be done because sooner or later the denomination will just die out. Our young thinkers will get pushed out and be forced to form their own churches and we will be left without leadership going forward into the next era.

Our current leadership believes in "grey" thinking. Another way to say this is they do not believe that every answer is going to work for every person. In this same regard, shouldn't we have the same thought process about our services? Why are our places of worship cookie cutter copies from the past? Why do we not have a service later in the day then 10:30a and during the summer, when we go down to one service, is that service actually earlier then our late service? Why is our music right out of old hymnals? I think you get the picture.

I will be honest, I don't have the answers to these questions. In some areas doing a later service will work and in others it will be rejected with the force of a thousand suns, but shouldn't the options be there? I know that some of our leadership is willing to try new things, which is awesome, but we need to let our parishioners know that they are allowed to think outside the box. If we don't make it known that it is OK to want to change things, then we are going to drive creativity out our doors, even in welcoming and affirming churches.

Its like the scene in "Gleaming the Cube," where Christian Slater's character cuts his hair and throws all of his skater clothes away for preppy clothes, so he can fit in his dead brother's world and get close to his girlfriend. In the end, the only way he was able to save the girl and solve the murder was to be who he was, a skater punk. We need our "skater punks" in our churches, as themselves, so we can move forward. Even King David refused to stick with the status qua and worshiped in progressive and undignified ways, refusing to succumb to the wishes of his wife. We need to worship with the same disregard for the dignified, or at least have that option to. Here is hoping that those who are bored with the same "old" church speak up and help to move it forward.

-Peace and God's Blessings

No comments:

Post a Comment