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The Bible Belt

April 14, 2008

I grew up hating to go to church. I found it to be boring and pointless. I found much of what was discussed as no more than a pat on the back or a “aren’t we better then everyone else.” I found it to be discouraging.

So the opportunity came to be at a place that wanted something different. A place that was willing to try anything to touch the lost and today it is finally official, I’m not sure how well that works in my stretch of the Bible belt.

I kept thinking that the way we do things doesn’t really help people so let’s try something new. I kept thinking that we should creatively engage people but I’m not so sure. Certainly if I lived in Los Angeles or Austin Texas but I don’t. I have been called to minister in the Bible Belt.

Recently we had a couple of families who shared that they were away from God and out of church. They seemed like seekers but do you know what I found? They asked all of the same questions as the church shopper. How big is your kids program, what do you have for mother’s etc. etc. etc?

This isn’t the first time, it may just be the last.

We have done much to make church not seem like church as far as structure goes. We still worship, take the Lord’s Supper and pray, we just try to be creative in how we approach those things. We try not to be bound by a pulpit or other items that have become traditional.The thinking was that the forms could be off putting to someone, that they could keep people from connecting with God.

Maybe people need those forms for the very reason that they do connect them in some way to God, or at least help them back to a time when they did?

I don’t know. I will be spending a time in prayer because maybe I have gotten something wrong. Maybe it my attempt to clear away debris for people I have just created a new set of debris that keeps people from seeing God.

I welcome any and all comments. Keep my in your prayers as I begin this trip.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2008 4:14 pm

    Wow Darin. It is cool hearing your words. That is such a struggle for leaders of congregations. I have several friends that have gone back looking at some of the early Christian disciplines. Even some that were/are practiced by clergy in the Catholic organization. One of the things that was reinforced to me in their blogging about their experiences with the Christian disciplines is that form follows function. A functional need is seen within an organization so a form is created in order to facilitate meeting that need. There isn’t anything wrong with having forms as long as they don’t get elevated to law or God, or aren’t pushed onto people that don’t benefit from the form.

    Here is a small example in my world… People physically raising their hands during praise songs. I’m not a hand-raiser. Never have been, probably never will be. I feel uncomfortable doing it. BUT, I understand other people have a need for this physical expression of their inward heart. I don’t look down on, or judge anyone that raises their hands. I don’t think they should keep their hands down, and I don’t think I have to put mine up. Where it would get sticky is if someone made a blanket call that you cannot put your hands up or a blanket call that you must put your hands up in order to be spiritual.

    Good post. I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll just leave it at that. (clapping is another one – Now I like to clap)

    I’ll keep you in my prayers as you look for wisdom and guidance from God.

    jh

  2. Nick Gill permalink
    April 14, 2008 5:07 pm

    Darin,

    Spend some time meditating on Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman in Jn 4. When she asked about worship in terms of the old forms, his gracious response nevertheless points her towards the freedom of kingdom worship.

    Think about it: what other kinds of questions should we expect from those who have lingering memories of institutional worship? Their longing for community expresses itself in the only forms they know.

    “Come and see” would be the general shape of my favorite response. Or maybe, “It depends on who is with us that day.” Or, “We provide community for anyone who needs it.

    If the New Heights community needs those kinds of resources (those asked about by the families you mentioned), I think your family will realize it and try and shape something organic to the kingdom mission. I would not worry about adding them for their attractive potential. It seems that you are striving to manifest a missional presence, and I don’t think the Wal-Mart church model helps us do that.

    Know that I’m praying for you.

  3. April 15, 2008 3:21 am

    Thanks guys. It is not a bad thing. Just something I must walk through.

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