Yesterday I listened to something on NPR about a church (yes – they called it “ancient”) somewhere in the Northern Neck area of Virginia (tried to find something to link to for this, but can’t find it anywhere…). I thought if somewhat funny that they called it at one point “ancient” – please – the church couldn’t be more than a few hundred years old…
But what also struck me as just so out-of-place (with what I know to be) as the usage of the word “church”. They used it to describe the physical building, but that so isn’t the church – it’s just a physical place where the church happens to usually do a lot of stuff at. Mind you many years ago I also held that view, but I really didn’t go to church. But now, our church meets at the Carmike movie theatre! Is that our church?? Definitely not, but it serves as our location on Sunday morning.
Church is a community of believers. Keyword there is community – a group of people! Some may have it in their small groups – a.k.a house churches. What I don’t understand is when you fully believe church is the physical place and have almost no connection with anyone there. This is how I’ve felt visiting some of my family’s churches back in Ohio. I guess it’s fine when you are there with family, but when it’s your own? And what if you go because your family all go and you just kind of have to? Isn’t that ultimately not really your church? It’s not like you are part of their community is there? I never got that.
The picture over on the right is me (I’d so rather it be a picture that wasn’t me) at a get-together at the Chesterfield Berry Farm with others at New Venture (that’s our church). No not everyone of the entire church came… but that just means there isn’t some implied pressure to attend everything. You come if you want to come.
I struggle with this because sometimes on Sundays we don’t get to experience the community aspect that much. Sometimes yes, but a bunch of times barely at all. We get a few minutes to connect with a few people. When I make it to the first service (only when I build the media for the songs and media for everyone to “follow along”), I love the time I have for the second service just to talk with people. That’s just great. I really get a lot more out of connecting with others in our small group that meets every week on Monday. And even then we really don’t have that much time to just talk – to just get to know each others’ lives and what we’re going through. Being there for the hard stuff.
So, I can fairly see that if you don’t have that in some way, why you just might leave – why you just might “quit going to church”. In my mind, it wasn’t your church anyway. Please read what this really funny guy Brant wrote a year after he quit going to church. So what’s he doing now? Home church.
I have to say that from an email with this guy, I am wondering about some sort of way to find churches around the Richmond area. Maybe some sort of index, maybe not. I’m really not sure. But I do know that when we were trying to find a church about a year ago, it was hard. A little random in picking some and then just going on a Sunday and seeing if we liked it, but we really don’t know anything at all about what denominations are about. Expectations vary widely. A lot have some sort of website, but it’s hard to really get a feel for what a church is about from them a lot of the time (they usually have a few pages, with some basic list of ministries you aren’t even sure they still do). I’m hoping to get together with someone near me to bounce ideas on this with… anyone seen anything like this?