On going to church

I don’t like to go to church.

There! I’ve said it.

I’m a Christian who enjoys learning more about God and how to live my life according to His will and plan for my life, but I dislike going to church. I always have.

Not that I have anything against the church members: I don’t.

I grew up in a small church just a stone’s throw from where I now live. Probably not even 200 members, they still have services geared to the “blue-haired old ladies” who have been members for years. A Southern Baptist church, they still sing from hymnals and print out the order of service on an old mimeograph. I hated it. I loved God and I loved the people, I just hated the church services.

So, I moved to a mega-church. This church has projection television behind the choir, stadium seating, and a gift shop in the lobby, a television studio, and all the trappings of today’s mega-church. I tried to get into the swing of things; the record-contract quality singers, the “happy, happy, joy, joy” songs with the lyrics projected where I could read them. I really did.

I don’t like singing.

That’s not entirely accurate: I don’t like communal singing. I don’t like singing when I’m part of a choir or a congregation.

I also don’t care for the style of soloist who chooses and perform songs with built-in “stand up” points. You know… the key-change or crescendo that can be counted on to cause at least a handful of people in the congregation to stand and lift their hand toward Heaven or begin applauding, which in turn causes the entire congregation to stand, many just feeling awkward.

I also don’t like it when preachers try too hard “close the deal.” God works in people’s lives differently, and they shouldn’t have their hand forced when it comes to a decision of that magnitude.

My idea of the perfect Sunday morning church experience? First, it probably wouldn’t be morning for me. I’m not a morning person.

I’d wake up at about 9AM, take a shower, brush my teeth, put on my good blue jeans, a decent shirt, my loafers, then drive to church where I’d meet a handful of other believers. We’d spend a few moments settling in, sharing coffee and doughnuts or something to eat, talking about our past weeks and finding out how each of us is doing. After that, we’d pick up where we left off the week before and really study the Bible. After a while, we’d talk about what’s on our minds, what’s bothering us, insights we may have had, questions that linger, burdens we bear. We’d comfort each other and pray, then disband for the week.

Afterwards, we’d move into the common area where we’d hear the announcements, and one of our ministers would share a brief lesson, then extend an invitation to join. No big productions. No grandiose moments. No high-pressure tactics. Just friends and fellow believers getting together to share a few precious moments together.

I’m positive there are churches like this elsewhere, just not anywhere near my home in Shreveport.