Not Ministered At but Ministering Together - My Church Experience

I've been debating on writing what is really on my mind for the last few weeks, but I restrained from doing so. In not writing my thoughts, it seems that nothing else has come to mind. The same thoughts are always there when I think about spirituality and the church. I want to just be positive about my church experience, but I can't. I'm extremely frustrated.

I don't like going to church, at least in the way that church is practiced around here. I look for ways to get out of going. This week we had a good reason with Eli pooping all over the toy room just before we were supposed to leave causing us to have to stay and clean up his poopy mess, but most weeks a reason doesn't manifest itself and I go without really wanting to. (This poopy ordeal was all my fault. I was changing Eli and he said that he needed to go to the bathroom. He sometimes goes on the potty, so I sent him to go in the bathroom since Lindsay was there getting ready. She brought him back to me after he didn't go. I wasn't paying that much attention and he darted to the playroom. While there, he defecated on the floor and made a mess. He came out with poop running down his leg. I knew that there was a mess to be cleaned up.)

People have advised me that I should go to church and not worry about whether I get anything out of it. In concept, I agree. That is what church is all about. So I go and look for ways to minister to others. Opportunities don't pop up. In practice, the church is not designed in a way for people that are attending to be giving to one another. Giving, except financially, doesn't seem possible in today's church environment unless you are in a formal position (worship leader, preacher, etc.). We have designed church to be entertaining and sat through without any social interaction. I can't participate and give to others during the sermon; I am expected to sit there quietly. I can sing songs to God during worship, but I must do that in isolation from those around me. Participation with one another really isn't allowed during "church". Communication with one another is considered rude except before and after the service and that one special greeting time in the middle. Church, as it is commonly experienced, is done in collective isolation.

I also go to a church that doesn't participate in the Lord's Supper every week. That is something I dearly miss, but I don't think going to a church that does a devotion and then the passing of the bread and wine would fill that void. Ever since I experienced the Lord's Supper in the context of a fellowship meal, I don't want to go back to doing it any other way. That was an environment where you could minister to one another. It was an environment of unity and love.

Most church services seem to be designed in such a way that the ministering happens only by the few that have positions in front of the congregation. The rest of the congregation are there to be ministered to. It seems that churches should consciously design what they do together to be an opportunity for the believers to minister to one another rather than to be ministered at by just one. I understand that there would be times in the life of a church when a guest speaker similar to the Apostle Paul would come to town and everyone would listen to him teach using a monologue style similar to preaching. I just have trouble with that being the norm. Maybe it is just my personal tastes.

Besides conceding doctrinal differences to go where I am going (or anywhere else for that matter), I also have to concede ecclesiological (theological doctrine relating to the church) differences. Conceding eccesiology isn't something I am comfortable doing. But maybe I have to get to that point. Please pray for us.

I long for doing church with a small group of people, sharing a dinner, learning together, worshipping together, serving together, and ministering to one another throughout it all. I still wish that would develop down here, but it hasn't.

Watch out for the potholes.