Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Monday, February 07, 2011

Church

We have some friends who moved here a few years ago from another state. While they lived in their previous city, they were extremely involved in their church - serving in children's ministry, volunteering, etc. Needing to arrive and depart at different times, they drove 2 vehicles each Sunday morning with dad going first, early, then mom coming along later with the kids. As many of us can understand, their Sundays were busy. Very busy. Several of their weekdays were full as well with various events and programs available to their congregation. Weary of the hustle and bustle, when they moved here, they decided to spend Sundays together as a family worshipping at home instead.

At first, this really bothered me. I could list a myriad of reasons their approach was not a good one.

And yet, this family happens to be some of the most gracious, hospitable, committed, God loving people I know. They are pretty much the only people (aside from my mother) to offer true, hands on support (in the form of babysitting our brood for appointments or for breaks for Bobby and myself, prepared meals, an open invitation to drop the kids by anytime) after we returned home with Meadow and Flint - when life was in a whirlwind state for us and we were struggling to find our bearings amidst all the changes that the adoption of children tends to bring. They regularly host guests in their home and look for opportunities to serve others. They are, what you might call, plugged in....not to a church though. Simply to other human beings.

I've been thinking a lot about them lately, and the refreshing example they have become to our family as we have witnessed their word and deed testimony played out in vibrant living color like I've rarely seen before.

During the past year, things began to shift considerably in my mind, my heart, my spiritual life. I became much less sure of what I would have once asserted I was certain of. I started to ponder my ways more carefully, thinking through my motivations for doing what I do, my reasons for believing what I believe. I began contemplating what role church should play in our lives, what role we, as individuals and families should play in the church, and if Church As We Know It in the USA in the year 2011 is in fact at all what God intends for His people. What exactly is the basis upon which we have established the institution of the contemporary evangelical church in our current day?

I started asking myself if our family should seek to be fed or to feed, or both? How do we properly go about bringing a heart felt offering of praise and worship to our Lord? How important is teaching, music, children's programs, discipleship, involvement, the building itself and financial stewardship in the church? How much time shall we spend mingling amongst ourselves and how much reaching out to others? To whom should we reach out toward? Our neighbors near, far away, those who are most desperate? Does it matter? Are attendance and duty important tenets of the Christian faith? What does reverence for God look like and is it present in my life, in my heart, in my church? Is home church a good idea? Can people actually thrive spiritually if they do not attend formal services? Is my reason for questioning that a sound one or is it baseless?

As of right now, I have more questions than answers. So, I am earnestly seeking God. At this time our family is devoted to a) our own personal reading through the Bible b) podcast teachings by pastors we enjoy and respect c) memorization with our children of chapters of Scripture d) prayer and e) songs of praise played regularly in our home. It's all the rest, I'm not so sure about. ☺

Now, you friends have been rather quiet lately, but I've got a favor to ask you. I always learn so much from you as you offer your unique perspectives, because you help me see a bigger picture than I can from my own little vantage point. I would love it if you would be willing to share any thoughts you may have on this subject. I realize it may be a touchy one. Personally, I do not believe there are any right or wrong ways to look at it - each of us has different needs during different phases of our lives that are met in different ways. The very thing that causes one to rejoice, may send another to rebel, and vise versa.

Still, I am extremely interested to know, what role does the church play in your life and do you feel it is as it should be?
I do hope you'll chime in!

6 comments:

Joe and Deanna said...

Good evening (at least it is evening here at our home)!

I loved this post, so I thought I would share a quick snippet of what church is to our family. Church for us happens everyday....we ARE the church. The church is all of Christ's followers in this world. Not just those who say they love God, but those who love God through and through.

Church to us is also community. We are a part of a home fellowship. A few families get together at least once per week to share each others burdens, pray for one another, study the word together through discussion and prayer, and worship together. Us girls get together a few times a month to chat as women, moms, wives, and girls. The men get together a few times a month to do the same, but in a manly sort of way :O

There is soooo much more I could share. But that is my simple sharing from my simple heart tonight. Thanks for asking and letting me share with you!

Deanna
http://joeanddeanna.blogspot.com/

Courtney said...

tisha...good topic!

i have very little brain cells today...way too much crying...but i'm going to try to say something coherent...

do i think you have to go to church?
no.
you should not go to church because you have to.
nor should you go to church just because you feel like you should.

but i do think there are a lot of great things about going to church.
-it holds us accountable to others in a healthy way
-the fellowship i get even just from walking in and out of the building and talking to a few people does WONDERS for my spirit
-the worship...need i say more?? i can NOT create that at home. some probably can..i can not.
-the wealth of wisdom and knowledge from those that "have gone before me" is something i crave...and hope to tap into more in the near future. i have in the past...and it's been life-changing. i've been in a season that didn't allow for it. i'd love to spend more time around "the older women".
-even trusting the decisions the elders make for our church is a good lesson in trusting authority. yes, they are sinful people and might make mistakes sometimes, but i so appreciate them and their willingness to serve.
-oh yes, service. the opportunity to serve others at church. good one.

now, many of those things can also be done outside of church.

i've chosen to be a part of a bible study in my neighborhood (none of whom go to "my church") instead of "at church" because that's where God called me this time.

we've chosen NOT to do AWANA this year and, instead, to stay for a second service on sunday morning and teach the 2 yr old sunday school class. (sorry...that is still at church...but was a conscious decision...2 very good things...but would have been too much for our family.)

i often choose NOT to go to "women's ministry events" and, instead try to get together with a friend one on one. i get more out of that than big events.

that's about all i have to say. i like church :-) but you have to make decisions...yearly...monthly...daily that are best for YOUR family in YOUR season.

last summer pat and i listened to a sermon by david platt that talked about this a lot...i'll try to remember what it was called. love him.

ok. i'm done :-)

Gretchen said...

We have done it both ways. For awhile we were really "plugged in" at church, and honestly we got burnt out. We ended up doing everything, our youngest at the time, began to hate Christianity. Simply he hated it because it meant work. And a lot of it. We took a break. Read aloud from the Bible at home. Switched radio stations to only Christian contemporary. Prayed before ll meals. Etc. Then we decided to slowly go out into the church community again. After many different styles, of preaching. Many different places of worship, we found one that worked for us. It was a church of around 5,000. The children's ministry was AWESOME, so our youngest began to LOVE church again. The congregation was so large, we were fed, but anonymous. After 4 years of attending that same church, it feels like home. We are "plugged in" but NOT excessively. We feel God there. We can talk to people we don't know there, and feel secure. It is a community of Christ followers where I feel safe, cared for, fed, and loved.

Keana said...

I know my opinion is a bit skewed because Josh is a minister. However, I know from my personal experiences that I don't have enough self discipline to stay the course without people holding me accountable.

There are Sundays that I REALLY don't want to get out of bed, but I do because I know once I'm there I will see people I love and who love me, but more importantly I will meet Jesus there. I am always blessed for my obedience. I know if I were to stay home I would get distracted and lose my focus.

I also enjoy my relationship with other church members. I know that when Avery has surgery this summer I will have no problem asking for prayer, and there will be 300+ people praying for her, and us, that morning.

I can play devil's advocate both ways - I'm sure you can too. For me church is the place to be. Not all the time (and there are times that church is in session that I'm not there even though I'm a minister's wife!), but I know I am bless by our church family and a huge part of me would be missing without them.

Chris Noelle said...

Tisha- You know WE are the church.
No building replicates that.
You have a heart seeking God.
No building can foster that.
You teach your kids the B-i-B-L-E with devotions EVERY DAY.
No building can do that.
You have 7 kids that can make for quite a trek to the building....not many can accommodate in an efficient way.
Many people rely on the building to teach their kids about God. You don't need that.
Do what is best at this time for your family.
Seek Him, Share His love with others, Worship Him, be at peace.

Anastasia said...

this calls for a heart-felt and much prayed over email...so expect one sometime soon...i hope! love you!

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