Monday, November 2, 2009

The Disconnected Church

It's bad when your friends tell you that they miss your regular blogging, and refer to it as "rants". :-) I have not been blogging - or in their words "ranting" much lately due to not being in the right mood for it, but most likely due to people's prayers, though the circumstances have not changed, I have been feeling more positive the last couple of days. Thanks to anyone who is praying for me - I appreciate it, and also thanks for the comments - I didn't publish them since they were intended for me, but they were appreciated.

In the blog post that brought those comments on, I mentioned that I have been feeling disconnected from my church since I moved back into the area sixteen months ago. I got an email from someone from my church saying they sometimes feel disconnected, and last night while talking to someone from church found out that he also feels disconnected.

I don't think people should feel disconnected. Times are tough and may get tougher. We need each other. I don't think it is enough to go in and worship with people of like-minded faith, though we need that - but we need more.

While I was living in Indiana, my church went a different direction with the youth. They used to have a combined service for the teenagers up through age forty before the evening worship service. For a while they also had been having activities outside of the church. One month they would have volleyball and pizza for the teens and early twenties crowd. The next month, they would do something similar for the married couples and singles that were older than that - like my age.

People in the church felt they need to focus more on the teens - said that we are losing them, and seemed to blame the church. I agree we need to do something, but I believe the blame lies with parents - but that is beside the point. Anyway, now they have something for the adults in the sanctuary, and the teens and early twenties crowd meet downstairs, and have some kind of activity outside of the church monthly. What is done for everyone else in the church? Zip. Zoink. Nada. Nothing.

Now I am honestly not bitter, though I do weary of hearing so much about the youth focus, when I feel the church is overlooking everyone else, especially singles that are too old for the youth focus. I actually made the statement to my parents soon after I moved back that it seems all our church cares about is the youth focus. More recently, I said if the rapture happened during a youth focus, they would want God to hold off until they were done. :-)

I go to a very conservative church, and there are people afraid of going too far with social activities, and yes, I think some churches do get carried away with that, but we Christians need fellowship and fun with other Christians.

Do I have any ideas to change things? Of course I do - glad you asked! First off, I think the extra services that we have at 6:15 should be moved to Wednesday evening, and start Sunday evening worship earlier. Give people more time to fellowship after church.

Nothing against anyone who has the Wednesday evening service, but it is pretty much a "mini" Sunday evening service, except we pray more, and testimonies are encouraged more. We sing, testifiy, pray, and someone speaks.

I think we should split up. Youth go do what they do on Sunday nights. The kids go do what they do Sunday nights. Everyone else have a genuine Bible study - not where someone just speaks and everyone else sits there - no, some kind of study where there is particpitation - even some workbooks or worksheets for people to answer questions. Oh yes, and maybe the singles of the church could have something at least once a month.

And some kind of potluck thing outside of the church would be great also.

I have mentioned my ideas to my family, and they shot it down. They said it would never fly because so many people don't come on Wednesday evening. That the church would never move the youth focus to Wednesday night because no one would come - my reply - well they would come if they wanted to be in it bad enough!

I really do think we need to change some things - probably not just my church, but a lot of churches - we need more community. More fellowship. I believe God wants us in church to worship Him, but also for fellowship. And really what kind of fellowship is it if everyone just talks to a few certain people after church, and/or flee like they are running a marathon. I don't see much fellowship there.

The church I attended in Indiana wasn't much different, though they did a couple of things I enjoyed. They have a Thanksgiving banquet for the whole church, served in the school's student activity building. At Christmas, the adult Sunday School classes have a Christmas banquet at a nearby restaurant, complete with someone coming to sing/minister. I liked that. And I miss that, now that I have moved back to Ohio.

Well, thus ends my first "rant" for some time. You who said you missed my rants, let me know what you think. :-)


Nancy said...

Something for the kids, something for teens, opportunity to join a small group study, fellowship once a month - sounds like my church.

Maybe you should see if your ideas would "fly". If Wednesday evening was more than just a "mini" Sunday service, more people might show up.

Glad you are feeling more positive. ;)

Unknown said...

Sometimes change starts with just one person making a suggestion and offering to help. I don't know very many Pastors who wouldn't jump at an offer to help start something. Maybe you could offer to help "head up" a Thanksgiving dinner. Our church did those too when I still lived at home and they were awesome... Another thing I remember from my childhood were the evenings when someone just invited the whole church over after Sunday evening service. (I don't know what happened about food, I was just a kid.) It could be something as simple as stopping for a gallon of ice cream and rootbeer and making floats. Anyway, I think you should start with something small... even ask a few of the other "singles of a certain age" to go to McDonalds after church for ice cream...
As to lots of age related activities I have a bit, no it's a pretty BIG attitude about having too many activities that divide groups. I think there should be more activities that are fun but include people of all ages. After all the older women are to teach the younger etc. How are the young people going to learn from the aged if they are never around them... ok, so you aren't the only one who can rant. :) Glad you are back at it!

Annette W. said...

So I agree with much of what you've said. I do find that "young people" are often a focus, but really when you are past 25 and single...let alone past 35, it is a whole new focus needed.

I will say I like how my church does Sunday services and youth group. Youth group is every Sunday, and the 2nd and 4th Sunday evening is a time for small groups in homes. The 1st and 3rd are at church.

Have you considered a new church to better meet your needs? I would suggest before leaving letting your pastor know that your desire to be better connected with people like you. I do know that our church doesn't have a singles group and one woman attends another church's singles group to meet that need. (Not that that is the only need you have, but it's big.)

teacherprincess said...

Love the rant and agree with quite a few points. And would love to help up with the singles Bible study. :-)