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another church thread - should the sermon centered idea of church change?


ktgrok
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5 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I think this is a problem in churches I've attended. For example the women's group I used to attend felt like they couldn't meet without doing service. We couldn't do a book group with a secular book. It had to be a religious book. 

Eventually it got to the point where most of the women didn't attend the women's group. 

A similar issue is that in liturgical churches, there's the idea that an ordained man has to be in attendance to oversee everything except if it's a woman's only group. But the priest is still supposed to oversee the women's group and approve what we do. It's impossible for him oversee everything so the church doesn't provide the activity. 

 

Wow ya, that would certainly limit everything! The most popular local women's group, prior to the pandemic, was a knitting/crocheting group. It used to meet at a church, but the church decided it wasn't a spiritual activity, so the local yarn shop let them use the store. Very popular. A lot of Christian ladies, including my mother in law, loved it. I think it provided a lot of fellowship, warmth, and support, certainly the women discussed their faith though they were not a nosy, proselytizing bunch, and had non Christian women in the group. But I guess for a lot of church leaders, this was not considered legitimate use of church space.

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21 hours ago, Bootsie said:

I am not  convinced that staying with their small group is really about being part of a church.  Often it is simply a clique that people find they enjoy.  It is easy for the sharing of prayer concerns to become veiled gossiping.  The group is not open to outside learning but reinforces each others opinions and beliefs; individual members are not challenged to grow.  And, the group is not open or accepting to outsiders and ministering to their needs.  The group becomes very closed and self-serving which is, IMO, the opposite of "church".  

My parents were members of a small faith group (BIL always got a chuckle from that name) that was formed in their Catholic parish. They were part of this group for almost 20 years until they moved. They became extremely close with the other members. 

I don't know how they managed to avoid the dangers of small groups. This was a Catholic group so eventually continued attending Mass every week in addition to the group. The group was not overseen by the parish in any way although it was originally created by the parish. 

 

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5 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

Wow ya, that would certainly limit everything! The most popular local women's group, prior to the pandemic, was a knitting/crocheting group. It used to meet at a church, but the church decided it wasn't a spiritual activity, so the local yarn shop let them use the store. Very popular. A lot of Christian ladies, including my mother in law, loved it. I think it provided a lot of fellowship, warmth, and support, certainly the women discussed their faith though they were not a nosy, proselytizing bunch, and had non Christian women in the group. But I guess for a lot of church leaders, this was not considered legitimate use of church space.

That's ridiculous. I hate the idea that only "spiritual" things are worthy of our attention. I think it drives people away and leads to the kind of divides mentioned above, i.e. you go to church for "spirituality" and soccer for sports and this club for whatever. Real life isn't that fractured. 

 

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Thinking about this thread today, makes me reminise about the community orgainzations that seem to  be dwindling over the past 20-30 years. Rotary Club, Lions etc. I know they still exist, but they aren't as prevalent as they were in previous generations. I wonder if those styles of community service could have a place in church buildings and oversite. Not taking over those specific clubs, but ones with a focus on community in which the whole congregation could participate in. 

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2 minutes ago, Tap said:

Thinking about this thread today, makes me reminise about the community orgainzations that seem to  be dwindling over the past 20-30 years. Rotary Club, Lions etc. I know they still exist, but they aren't as prevalent as they were in previous generations. I wonder if those styles of community service could have a place in church buildings and oversite. Not taking over those specific clubs, but ones with a focus on community in which the whole congregation could participate in. 

I was thinking about those organizations too. Kiwanis is one that used to be very active here. They use to put on an amazing air show every summer at the tiny, local airport. Very nice. But now there is no Kiwanis club. I still see Lions some, but can't remember the last time I heard of a rotary club activity. I will say this, the Moose Lodge had w neck of a great Euchre tournament every year. Well attended. We play Euchre, and even back in our church doing days would have loved to sit down with some couples and play at church, hang out. But that was never allowed. I hope the Moose Lodge survives the pandemic!!! 😢

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

 

A similar issue is that in liturgical churches, there's the idea that an ordained man has to be in attendance to oversee everything except if it's a woman's only group. But the priest is still supposed to oversee the women's group and approve what we do. It's impossible for him oversee everything so the church doesn't provide the activity. 

 

Some liturgical churches ordain women.  And don't think you need an ordained person in charge unless there are sacraments involved.

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56 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

@Momto6inIN Pardon the question, but are anabaptists Amish and Mennonite ? I I remember hearing something like that, but could be totally mistaken. You do not look Amish so I was wondering. 😊

Amish and Mennonite are Anabaptists, but not all Anabaptists are Amish or Mennonite.  Also, there are a wide variety of Mennonites, including many who dress in completely modern ways and utilize technology.  Churches like Church of the Brethren and other peace churches are also Anabaptist.  

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On 4/23/2021 at 8:22 AM, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I just started reading Why No One Wants to Go To Church.  Lecture style sermons are one of the reasons.  People have doubts and questions they want to discuss in depth, something they're not able to do in a sermon styled gathering. At least that's what the people who did the research were told.  My experience in discussion focused small groups is that the leadership and I are are the only ones who want to read the assigned passage, think about it, and discuss it.  Maybe the churches I've attended are in the wrong demographic.

That's interesting because all the churches I have ever been a part of had many small groups. It's the core focus of the churches. I suppose one reason is that the smallest group I have been a part of was about 300 people...the others have been in the 3k to 5k range. 

 

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31 minutes ago, Danae said:

Some liturgical churches ordain women.  And don't think you need an ordained person in charge unless there are sacraments involved.

True but in Orthodox churches, there is an idea that it's not worth doing unless there is a priest involved. Also priests generally want to control anything 'religious' like a Bible study. It's not as bad in Catholic churches because they are generally too big for that. 

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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I think this is a problem in churches I've attended. For example the women's group I used to attend felt like they couldn't meet without doing service. We couldn't do a book group with a secular book. It had to be a religious book. 

Eventually it got to the point where most of the women didn't attend the women's group. 

A similar issue is that in liturgical churches, there's the idea that an ordained man has to be in attendance to oversee everything except if it's a woman's only group. But the priest is still supposed to oversee the women's group and approve what we do. It's impossible for him oversee everything so the church doesn't provide the activity. 

 

I have been a part of liturgical churches that have not had this idea at all.  First, there are liturgical churches that ordain women.  Second, even in those that do not ordain women, I have not experienced that an ordained person my be in attendance and oversee every activity.  

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23 hours ago, ktgrok said:

I wonder, is it the sheer amount of time spent together that makes this happen, or just having the expectation? How do we get to this in other churches?

I think it's both? The expectation is that these people are your family and primary social group, and so you spend lots of time together, and that just reinforces the expectation. I moved here and my husband and I weren't members of the church for many years, just attendees, (we became members after 8 years of attendance) and yet the expectation was still there and we were still welcomed as family and invited to things and included in all the plans.

I don't know how to create it in other churches. Before I was a member of this church, I had been a member of the Presbyterian church, the Methodist church, and also 3 different Roman Catholic parishes. And even though each of those churches had strong faith that was communicated well to its members and I loved them all for different reasons, they just didn't have the community that I have now. I was Catholic the longest, and it seemed to me that for most other Catholics that I knew at the time, going to church was about you and God (which isn't wrong, really) and service projects were about you and the needy (which also isn't wrong, really) but there just wasn't a place for building up the community of believers apart from that (which isn't wrong either, really, but certainly leaves something missing). At least not at the parishes I was a part of after college. The campus parish where I originally became Catholic had the closest thing to it. They often had social events that many college students attended, as well as weekend retreats where not only your relationship with God was emphasized, but also your relationship with your brothers and sisters was intentionally emphasized.

19 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Does everyone in your church participate equally in the after church fellowship? Does anyone sneak out after church and skip lunch? Do people talk to the same people every week? Are there people who are not included? 

Those are hard questions to answer because people who are excluded are under the radar. 

Some of the people at our old church would have said the same thing about our after liturgy lunch. But it was actually extremely cliquey. People spoke to the same people every Sunday and some people were definitely not included. 

Who provides the lunch at your lunch? There was a rotation at our old church and it turned into a oneupmanship thing. People didn't volunteer because they couldn't afford to provide an entire lunch for the church or because they didn't have the ability to cook such a big meal.  

Now we attend a large Catholic parish and there is no fellowship and I really enjoying it at this stage in our lives. I don't want to get all caught up in everyone's business. I don't want to know that they support terrible ideas and think that masks are tyranny. I don't want someone telling me about how terrible [fill in the blank] is or how people send their kids to school because they want the government to raise their kids. 

 

You are totally right that we are not perfect at it! I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I think we are. I know there are still people who feel excluded at our church. We are a body of believers who still fight with flesh and blood and sometimes we sin against each other unfortunately.

One of the people I know at our church who struggles with feeling excluded is a good friend of mine. I know she's been hurt by people at church, but I can also see ways she has contributed to her own feelings of isolation. I'm not saying it's her fault! It's not. But it's also not completely someone else's problem either. She has unrealistic expectations of her brothers and sisters and then blames them for not caring enough about her when those expectations aren't met. And she puts up walls and blocks herself off from people emotionally and withdraws herself in ways that make it hard and awkward to include her.

To make lunch, you volunteer to be on the schedule. Older people who have "put in their time" are encouraged to take themselves off the rotation, but most don't. We have a kitchen at church with lots of fridge space and over space and all the utensils/gadgets you could ever want and it's open throughout the week before you serve lunch if you don't have room in your own kitchen for that much food. There is a little bit of oneupmanship among some people, but not most people. Most people just provide simple food when it's their turn.

So - I definitely recognize that our church has challenges and is not the "perfect community". But the fact remains that even if not all the people in our church are blossoming under its sense of community, the majority of them are. And that's an unusual blessing that I don't see in many other churches.

18 hours ago, Dreamergal said:

@Momto6inIN Pardon the question, but are anabaptists Amish and Mennonite ? I I remember hearing something like that, but could be totally mistaken. You do not look Amish so I was wondering. 😊

What @Terabith said 🙂. I don't look Amish, but I do wear a doily like head covering and skirts. But not the full on Amish white cap and homemade plain dresses. And we use technology! 

 

This next part is not directed at anyone in particular, just my own musing. I don't think the kind of community that many people say they want in a church is possible without true, loving, mutual forbearance. Anytime you put a group of imperfect people together who each have different life experiences, opinions, temperaments, challenges, and strengths you are going to have conflict. Sometimes people are going to annoy each other, sometimes they are going to hurt each other; sometimes they are going to offend each other. When that happens you have two choices: either walk away or forbear. If you choose to walk away, that's a valid choice. But recognize that it means you are walking away from the potential for true community. If you choose to stay, that's a valid choice too. But recognize that it means you are going to have to forbear others and they are going to have to forbear you. You really can't have it both ways because all people are imperfect.

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31 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

I think it's both? The expectation is that these people are your family and primary social group, and so you spend lots of time together, and that just reinforces the expectation. I moved here and my husband and I weren't members of the church for many years, just attendees, (we became members after 8 years of attendance) and yet the expectation was still there and we were still welcomed as family and invited to things and included in all the plans.

 

Thinking on this and picturing it, I also wonder if there needs to be just enough people there who are in the same stage of life, or some other common interest, other than just Christianity, for it to feel like a community? Our parish just doesn't have many parents with young kids, so maybe that makes it harder for me to feel part of it. 

Honestly, the Episcopal churches around here flat out need to consolidate to some extent. ONE has a big number of families, but it also has an attached private school, and is in the wealthiest area of town and the attendees are all of that income bracket. The others are all small, and would do well to join up at least in things like youth groups, family events, etc. 

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5 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Thinking on this and picturing it, I also wonder if there needs to be just enough people there who are in the same stage of life, or some other common interest, other than just Christianity, for it to feel like a community? Our parish just doesn't have many parents with young kids, so maybe that makes it harder for me to feel part of it. 

Honestly, the Episcopal churches around here flat out need to consolidate to some extent. ONE has a big number of families, but it also has an attached private school, and is in the wealthiest area of town and the attendees are all of that income bracket. The others are all small, and would do well to join up at least in things like youth groups, family events, etc. 

In my experience feeling community in a church had little to do with others being in the same state of life.  It had more to do with interaction and people really knowing each other and caring about each other.  At the last church we attended there were very few people at the same stage of life that we were in.  But, it was the 90-year old who knew my teenage son by name and who would come up and ask him about what was happening in his life.  It was about having a church dinner where the young couple with an infant sat next to us and we held the baby so both mom and dad could have two hands free to eat a meal.  

Before that we attended a church with many families with kids our age--who attended when kids didn't have golf practice, or a girl scout campout, or a baseball game, something else that was more engaging.  

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12 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Thinking on this and picturing it, I also wonder if there needs to be just enough people there who are in the same stage of life, or some other common interest, other than just Christianity, for it to feel like a community? Our parish just doesn't have many parents with young kids, so maybe that makes it harder for me to feel part of it. 

Honestly, the Episcopal churches around here flat out need to consolidate to some extent. ONE has a big number of families, but it also has an attached private school, and is in the wealthiest area of town and the attendees are all of that income bracket. The others are all small, and would do well to join up at least in things like youth groups, family events, etc. 

I do get the idea of needing people walking through similar stuff, but as a mom of teens, I really enjoy the multi-age fellowship of our church. I love hearing the advice and sweetness of the older folks and I love that they gush over my kids and watch them grow up. There's an older man who's a second grandpa to my kids and they just LOVE him so much. And I enjoy the energy of the young people. 

 

1 minute ago, Bootsie said:

In my experience feeling community in a church had little to do with others being in the same state of life.  It had more to do with interaction and people really knowing each other and caring about each other.  At the last church we attended there were very few people at the same stage of life that we were in.  But, it was the 90-year old who knew my teenage son by name and who would come up and ask him about what was happening in his life.  It was about having a church dinner where the young couple with an infant sat next to us and we held the baby so both mom and dad could have two hands free to eat a meal.  

Before that we attended a church with many families with kids our age--who attended when kids didn't have golf practice, or a girl scout campout, or a baseball game, something else that was more engaging.  

YES! THIS!

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I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. I would love to see churches put more emphasis on serving their communities and not just serving the church body with a community outreach project thrown in here and there. I would love to attend a church that focused on community service as its main mission. 

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4 minutes ago, lovelearnandlive said:

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. I would love to see churches put more emphasis on serving their communities and not just serving the church body with a community outreach project thrown in here and there. I would love to attend a church that focused on community service as its main mission. 

This is timely. I (agnostic, long time lapsed Catholic) have been looking for local social justice groups with a focus on the material - indigenous disadvantage, housing, etc. The only place I can find that focus? The Catholic church a suburb over. 

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I did listen to that podcast episode only because I have not gone back to church since last March (OK twice).  I just couldn't do it anymore.  I wasn't making real relationships there and everything was so rushed.  As an introvert who is more interested in substantial relationships than just a lot of "how are you" relationships, I felt like church for our family was more of a drain than fulfilling for me.  I would think during the sermon, "I think that person needs a bit of prayer afterward.  I will go and pray for them once the sermon is done".  More often that not, the people I wanted to talk to or pray for zipped out of church before they Amened the end.  And then when you have two services a Sunday and a church that is too small to actually chat with anyone afterward, you are essentially going for 5 songs, two prayers, announcements, and a sermon.  No one stays after the second service because people are hungry, and the staff is tired and turning out lights on you. The first service has to leave to make room for the second so no one sticks around for that one either.  And if you want to get more involved, you have the wonderful choice of children's church or nursery.  I have volunteered for the nursery only because it gave me an opportunity to talk with people and actually get to know them.  

I have gotten together with some women weekly to pray and chat, and am willing to try small groups to actually "be" the church to each other.  Church is people - not a building where you go to hear a sermon.  I have found the prayer group and the small group to be infinitely more valuable and meaningful.  

My son is 20 and desperately wants community.  He is trying churches (because we want him to take charge of his own faith) and getting the 5 songs, announcements, a prayer, and a sermon with people leaving right after.  It's really difficult to try and find community in the current church model and he's getting frustrated.  His generation is crying for community and real connection and the church is giving them basically a sit in your seat, don't talk, and go home model.  My mom goes to a traditional Lutheran church and is a church organist.  The pastor is starting to worry because they have opened the church up again for services and no one is coming.  They are all very content to check the church box off sitting in their pajamas drinking their coffee.  The Sunday church thing really needs to be rethought.  

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2 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

I do get the idea of needing people walking through similar stuff, but as a mom of teens, I really enjoy the multi-age fellowship of our church. I love hearing the advice and sweetness of the older folks and I love that they gush over my kids and watch them grow up. There's an older man who's a second grandpa to my kids and they just LOVE him so much. And I enjoy the energy of the young people. 

 

YES! THIS!

I find a church with a wide age spread and - this is the important part - people who are willing to step out of their own demographic for fellowship and socializing makes for a better community.

For a few years we attended a church that had a  large number of seminary students, along with your  usual contingent of upper-middle-age to elderly. There were also families with young children. I loved those seminary students. They were in town to learn and they were at church to learn as well. They had no age boundaries when it came to friendships. 

Of course it's best if there's a balance, but I find often people split off by age/stage of life too much than (in my opinion) is healthy.

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2 hours ago, lovelearnandlive said:

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. I would love to see churches put more emphasis on serving their communities and not just serving the church body with a community outreach project thrown in here and there. I would love to attend a church that focused on community service as its main mission. 

This is one of my issues with our current church. Based on the church budget, it's obvious the church is doing quite well financially. But other than supporting some missionaries, there is precious little going out. There is a food collection once a month and (pre-covid) some occasional outreach events. That's it. I don't like it.

 

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2 hours ago, lovelearnandlive said:

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. I would love to see churches put more emphasis on serving their communities and not just serving the church body with a community outreach project thrown in here and there. I would love to attend a church that focused on community service as its main mission. 

We have found downtown churches in large cities that are very mission/community focused.  We have also found some in small towns.  For us, it has been much harder to find that in suburbia.  

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16 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

This is timely. I (agnostic, long time lapsed Catholic) have been looking for local social justice groups with a focus on the material - indigenous disadvantage, housing, etc. The only place I can find that focus? The Catholic church a suburb over. 

You're lucky. I've been looking for these kinds of groups and can't find anything in any local Catholic church. I see things online in other parts of the country but the Catholic Church here is so conservative. It might be different if we attended a church with a different demographic but we speak only English. 

My parents live in a much more liberal part of the country and the parish has groups dedicated to social justice things and my parents have joined some of them. 

 

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I haven’t been to in person church regularly in years. 
I do miss the fellowship, in theory, but I don’t miss the reality. I tried a mom’s bible study when I had a toddler. It was not to my taste. Too much crafting and not enough bible. I really like virtual church, podcasts, personal bible time, and worship throughout the day. 

 

 

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On 4/23/2021 at 9:05 AM, HeartString said:

I’m not sure most church-going Sundays are functioning that way though.  Everyone rushes around to get pretty, it’s stressful, there’s yelling, you get there, think about God for an hour, go home for a couple hours, get ready again and go back to church then go home to bed.  It’s not a restful, reflective day of contemplation.  It’s a day of socializing, showing off outfits and perfect hair, running around yelling at kids to get dressed! Don’t get dirty!   
 

Is this the only way or the best way?  I’ve never thought about it before that specifically.  

I have actually found that I often get migraines on Sundays we go to church. The stress, the socializing (before COVID), the expectations...they all result in pain for me.

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