Saturday, August 13, 2005

Church Searching

My lack of recent posting is mainly because I’ve been pretty busy with orientation and stuff here, and although I’ve been thinking a lot, it’s not about the kinds of issues you post about on the internet. At least not the kind I post about on the internet. Issues of identity and personal philosophy and many less esoteric things like navigation and scheduling (my new friend Craig has posted a wonderful reflection about physical and academic navigation, actually).

Here’s a question I’m willing to share and offer for discussion though: what is important to me in a church? This is, obviously, not simply an academic exercise as I leave a church I was very involved in, and already miss after only one Sunday away. But it’s also a chance for me to see some different churches and learn from others and also make some more decisions about who I will be here.

For me, the primary thing is really community. I want to go a place that the members really know each other, love each other, and take care of each other. This is really what kept me coming back to both my other churches, and everything else sort of takes a backseat to a welcoming, thriving community. As a twenty-something single person, I’m interested in a place that has a reasonable community of young single people (not a dating service, mind you, but a community), but also a variety of people in different stages of life. I want a church that is thoughtful about their liturgy – that makes all the pieces of their worship service meaningful, intellectually and emotionally. It's important to me to go to a place that values the contributions of diverse people - regardless of gender, age, social class, gifts, etc. As I've noted before, I'm particularly sensitive to the gender thing. Related to that, I'd like a church that's somewhat socially progressive.

After that there are a few things I would like that are less important and less universal. I want a place that values worship from many traditions and sources. I would like to play improvisational violin with a pretty good worship band. I want deep relationships, but not too much commitment. Someplace near my home would be nice (sorry CP-ers, I won’t commute to GR). But as you can tell from my opening requests, I could end up at some very different types of congregations. Last week I visited a Presbyterian church that I thought was pretty good. This week I’m thinking of trying a church whose website reminds me of Centrepointe’s. Stay tuned, I guess, for how my lofty ideals play out in real life.


Ryan said...

stop me if i've already shared this, but i heard eugene peterson speak about the issue of church, and his advice was to choose the smallest and the most local. he was very opposed to (and confused by) the megachurch movement or the idea of church-shopping and -hopping. he speaks to the idea of community and says that unless you are annoyed by the people with whom you are worshiping, you are not really in community. he called it the "irritation factor." he has lived this out with a group of "cranky old norwegians" in rural montana. good luck in your process.

citystreams said...

i'm a friend of a friend and i love reading your blog. i was wondering if you'd mind if i posted a link to "things bethany wrote" from my blog. :oD keep up the good bloggin'