When I lived in Afghanistan, I gathered with less than a dozen other foreign believers in my community to pray, worship, share the Scriptures and sometimes celebrate communion. We didn’t have a pastor or a sound system or air-conditioning. There were months on end when we sang a cappella because we didn’t have a guitarist to accompany us.
What we did have was community. We were a small band of believers. We drew strength and encouragement from our times with one another, but it was more than that. We were few and vulnerable and deeply committed to one another.
We expressed our commitment in very practical ways; when a member’s child nearly cut her finger off, my team rushed back from the mountains so that our doctor could tend the wound. When one of us returned from a long trip, we threw a party. And when newcomers came, we welcomed them, got to know them, and called them ‘us’.
Imagine my shock when I returned to America.
One of the 1st churches I went to had the sound system turned up so loudly that I couldn’t hear the voices of the people beside me. That church even had colored lights for the band. At another church, everything was seeker friendly – all designed for comfort. Yet another church had fantastic teaching but I was completely invisible. Oh, then there was that strange church of some 15 members who did 5 altar calls after the sermon. I almost went forward just to make them feel better.
I was lost!
I recently found a quote that resonated in my heart: “When the church throws itself into entertaining us, we walk out. And in return, older generations are left frustrated by the shallowness of the Sunday morning service.” ~Carson Nyquist
Ah, I thought, that’s it. Entertainment. The cool churches have it and the rest wish they did. (Fortunately, I’m exaggerating wildly.)
The truth is, not everyone wants to be entertained. There’s something in us that aches for authenticity, for community – with Christ and with one another.
I wonder if this is core to what it means to be a Christian; that we are part of the body of Christ. We’re family. Not like a nuclear family, but like a big messy extended family. Still, we belong.
I’m musing. How do you see church?