February 23, 2006

Worship in Spirit and Truth

Last year, we made a very difficult decision to change our church fellowship. Both DH and I were conflicted about making such a change, considering that we had been at the same church for nearly 10 years. We had good friends and family there and our entire family was active in church service.

Our primary reason for making the change was to find a much smaller youth program for our then 7th grade son. We decided to begin fellowshipping at my parent's church, which happens to be about 3 minutes from our house, a nice change from the 20 minute drive to our large Bible church.

So with some hestitation, we made the switch last summer. Our son has done very well and has made some nice friends at my parent's church. DH and I enjoy the Pastor's messages. But despite the appearances that everything seems okay, there just is a lack of peace in our hearts about worshipping there. I thought for a long time that is was simply the 'getting used to something different' process. Our large Bible church was well-known for it's outstanding Music and Worship, dynamic preaching, and extensive missions and service/enrichment opportunities. Quite a different story at the small community church where my parents attend. We have met some very nice families during the past year. I have been involved in Awana, helping with the K-2nd graders. It has been a nice experience for us all -- but again, something just wasn't sitting right with us.

Over the past couple of months, there has been a spirit of disharmony and disunity in the fellowship. It has caused a split in the church, with about 20 or so families leaving to attend elsewhere. The cause you ask? Simply put - a disagreement on how we should worship the Lord on Sunday mornings. It is quite a silly thing IMHO. I mean we all worship the Lord in our own way and I see no problem with having a variety of music styles every week (jazz, contemporary, hymns). However, the Pastoral staff has not done a very good job of handling this situation and in fact have behaved rather poorly.

I am not sure if you are familiar with the term "seeker" or with the "seeker movement." But at one time this church body was aptly labeled as such. They attempted to create two groups of fellowshippers out of one body. One reflected the traditional mindset and made up the majority of members in the church. These were a mixture of people, from all walks of life, most of whom had grown up in the church or came from a traditional church background. The other group were made up of people who had rejected traditional church and were 'seeking' something different. The church attempted to cater to each group and failed miserably. A church divided cannot stand.

Last year, the elder board and Pastoral staff decided that they needed to embrace the 'contemporary' group by hiring a new Music Director who would reflect the 'hip', be worldly so as not to offend those 'seeking' spirituality. In doing so, they alienated those 'traditionalists' who finance the church, the building, and pay the salaries of the staff.

Now, here is our problem with this whole issue. I understand and do not doubt the motivation of the Pastoral staff. I believe that in their hearts they truly want to reach the lost and provide a warm and loving community for them. I don't believe that the 'seeker' movement itself is biblical and I take issue with that on the ground that the bible tell us that as believers we are to be 'salt and light' and that we are not to be conformed to the world or it's ways, it's culture, or it's standard. It is a theological issue with me -- but more than that it is the very pettiness of this whole thing. I cannot understand how members of the body of Christ can cause such disunity. The Apostle Paul urges us all to be of "one mind, one spirit, one body." It is our duty as members of the household of God - we are not to be infighting or squabbling over such matters.

Well, to make a very long story short, we have decided to return to our home church. Our son will continue to attend Wednesday night youth group and I will help in Awana through the end of May. But after that, we will return to our first love and will settle back into a fellowship where the Lord is first always and the family behaves and lives as it should.

No comments: