I have a long, complicated history with church. I think the last time I blogged about church, I was at something of a crossroad. We were not going to church regularly, I had concerns about judgment and hypocrisy, and I felt my spiritual life was healthier outside of a church atmosphere.
Now, seven months later, I'm at something of a crossroad. We are not going to church regularly, I have concerns about judgment and hypocrisy, and I feel my spiritual life is healthier outside of a church atmosphere.
I don't want to ever say "never." I want to stay open, and listen, and go in whatever direction it is that we're called to go.... whatever that may mean.
The yoga teacher training I'm going to take is through a Christian yoga program. I have gone back and forth on this so many times that I've lost count. I want to do it, I don't want to do it, I want to go through a secular school, I don't want to go through a secular school, I want to do it, I don't want to do it. It's exhausting. What I've realized though is that no matter how many times I talk myself out of it, for whatever reason, it keeps. coming. back. I cannot make it go away. It has been placed on my heart so strongly that I just can't ignore it, and I don't want to ignore it. It's clearly something I've been called to do. I share that both to demonstrate what my faith means to me, and to give some background as to one of the reasons I'd have such a bias against the ad we recently received for a local church here.
The ad says:
Strobe Lights..... NO
Disco Balls..... NO
Fog Machines.... NO
Choreographed Praise Dancers..... NO
Canned Sermons..... NO
Yoga Classes..... NO
Plastic People..... NO
I understand what the ad was trying to convey. I do. They're proud of the fact that they strip away all the other "stuff", and concentrate on the simplicity and on the truth. In theory, I agree with that. I personally feel closest to God in the middle of the desert, or a mountain, or the woods.... with no walls or pews or Bibles or ministers (or any people, for that matter) in sight. So I can relate to the sentiment.
By bringing attention to the very things they want to avoid, they're making them more important than they need to be, which seems to be the opposite of their intention. Using those things as a reason to go to their church as opposed to a church that does have yoga classes or praise dancers or strobe lights feels like a negative campaign to me (and is one of the huge reasons that I have little tolerance for political ads) It's implying that there's something inherently wrong with all those things, and I just don't think there is. Who's to say what's right or wrong when it comes to someone else's spiritual path? What if someone DOES happen to like strobe lights or disco balls, yoga classes or bongo drums? What if those things help bring them closer to God, or help them reflect, or help them worship? And wouldn't a church that is specifically advertising as not having certain things only serve to alienate people... people who might otherwise be looking for a church and want to attend?
There is so much division among religions of the world. SO MUCH division. And we're not making it any better. We're even creating division among Christian churches, churches which all claim to be worshiping the same God. I've been to churches that had major conflicts (ie: people getting so offended that they were leaving the congregation) over things like replacing the pews with chairs, getting rid of song books and putting the words on an overhead projector, having pot luck dinners in rooms other than the designated "fellowship hall." These things don't matter. Preferences over lights and praise dancers and yoga classes don't matter.
A few weeks ago, this photo of Christians holding hands and forming a protective ring around praying Muslims in Egypt was going around Facebook. That's what life should be about. It should be about coming together, not finding more reasons to get further apart. It should be about helping one another and loving one another and accepting one another, regardless of where or how or whom one chooses to worship. It should be about finding the common thread, instead of looking for the different one.
It should not be about splitting hairs over inconsequential things that at the end of the day just. don't. matter.
I don't know what the future holds as far as my family and church. I really don't. What I do know is that if I'm ever taking a yoga class with plastic people and choreographed praised dancers, while listening to a canned sermon, under the glow of strobe lights, the brightness of disco balls, and the haze of fog machines... that the God that I know and love will be there with me.