My father asked me a week or two ago about where I was in finding a new church. I informed him that I had given it some thought, but hadn’t gone out to investigate any of the local churches, but I have been reading my bible on my own and listening to some bible study podcasts.
Now, I didn’t tell him that I really have a feeling that I am not going to find a church that isn’t a)complementarian and b)compromised by feminist-lite Christians. This fact makes me feel like it would be a huge waste of time and effort, and possibly lead to unneeded conflict with people I don’t know.
Like a good father and Christian, however, he reminded me that I needed fellowship with other Christians in order to grow. That got me to wondering: Does attending a modern Western church really even count as ‘fellowship’?
When I think back to all the churches we have attended throughout my life I really don’t remember much “fellowship” with people while actually at the church. In fact, I think most of you would agree (if not, then please speak up) that going to Sunday morning church is probably involves less fellowship than we let on.
Typical Sunday morning church involves getting to the church before service starts (most of the time) and having a brief chat with the people you know, while somewhat avoiding those you really don’t. Most of the time its just your typical water cooler chat about the wife and kids, the job, etc., rarely do I remember talking about the bible, scripture or anything like that.
Once its time everyone moves into the sanctuary where they all sit in silence as the staff reads over the upcoming events for the week, they take offering and pray. Everyone stands and sings praise songs, then everyone sits back down to hear the pastor give his lesson. Sometimes there’s a ‘greeting time” where you turn around and say hello to the person next to you, only to sit right back down in your seat to prepare for the pastors message. Afterward everyone prays then heads back toward the foyer where they chat for a few minutes, but most of the time everyone is hungry and fighting to get out of the building to head home and eat.
Now, where is the fellowship in that?
In fact, it seems as though there was more, actual fellowship whenever we had church potlucks. I mean, the kids would be running around playing or swimming, the adults would be standing or sitting with a plate of food. Sometimes there was music. More importantly, though, there was ACTUAL fellowship going on. Bible verses were being discussed, prayers were being said, stories about giving ones life to Christ were being retold and praise for prayers answered. This to me seems much more like fellowship as described in the New Testament than weekly building gatherings.
I don’t know if I want to find another brick and mortar church to attend. A home church seems more fitting and it seems like more gets done. Sure, home churches seem to stem from the brick and mortar churches, but if they are anything like the last men’s bible study group I attended they will be under the thumb of a pastor who doesn’t attend and has no idea what’s going on in the group but has complete control over what is studied. When word from the higher ups came through that we would be required to read the bible from start to finish, while attempting to keep up with the rest of the church, who met 3-4 times per week I knew the group was done. We were skipping whole swaths of scripture in order to “keep up” and there was little to no discussion of pertinent bible subjects.
I don’t know. What do you think?