Service on Sundays

I am sick again, so I thought I would have a guest blogger today. Let me introduce to you Mr. Doug Pagitt (for some reason my link building is down, but I wrote about the book early on February 15). What he says here is something I long to experience in church again. It reminds me so much of the church in Lansing.

"In the early days as we shared our desires for the feel, intentions, and ways of Solomon's Porch, we often asked a key question of one another: 'What in your past that was lifegiving could we incorporate into our lives together?' We didn't have a predetermined picture of how we wanted this experiment to unfold; we were seeking something new, together. We didn't look at handbooks or guides to starting a church. We had no interest in doing a 'cover' version of someone else's church model. We knew there were aspects of our pasts that were useful, beautiful, and could benefit others, and we knew there were still other aspects of faith we had little or no exposure to. From these discussions came the basic elements of our community, and we have sought to continue this invitational creative process over the last for years. We often say that we want the dreams of Solomon's Porch to reflect the dreams of the people in our community. We want that list to keep growing and changing with us. It was never meant to be stagnant."

"This idea of bringing our dreams to the church is quite different from the model of the 'program' church many of us had experienced where the community becomes a collection of services meant to meet the felt needs of the congregants. We never wanted Solomon's Porch to be a place where people were 'serviced.' A few years before the start of Solomon's Porch, my wife, Shelley, and I were visiting a church that met in a school cafeteria. We sat in the back, and there was a couple sitting in front of us. While we never actually met them we did feel a strange connection with them after staring at the back of their heads for an hour. As the service ended the husband turned to his wife and in the midst of a yawning stretch said, 'Well, that wasn't so bad.'"

"That's the kind of thing I say when I get up from the chiropractor's table or when I get my oil changed in less than 30 minutes. At that moment I knew if Solomon's Porch - just an idea at the time - ever happened, I didn't want it to become a provider of religious goods and services, no matter how hip they were. I believed the church could be more, that it was reasonable to hope for a deeper response than, 'That wasn't bad.' From the beginning of Solomon's Porch we have referred to our time together on Sundays as gatherings and not services. It's a little thing, but it reminds us that we are here to live life together, not simply have our individual needs serviced.


Here are some brief thoughts from a sick and plugged up head. I miss the days of where church was whatever we felt God wanted us to be. That might be possible in our current church, but it is more of a "whatever I feel God wants it to be" rather than "whatever we feel God wants it to be." It isn't as healthy of a situation as it was in Lansing. In Lansing we would share what we wanted to do as a church, and then if the group wanted to do it, we would do it. I remember times when things that I wanted to do were shot down, but that is fine. We were of one mind. There was consensus building. In my current situation, I can do whatever I want, but nothing is a group thing. It is just me as an individual doing whatever I want. We aren't growing and changing together. We're whatever way we feel like growing by ourselves. We're many minds. We're many bodies.

Watch out for the potholes.