That was the church we went to this morning. This was one that I pass every time I go to work. It has a great location - easy to get to and fairly close. So far things are looking good! A friend of ours who although does not attend there had visited and recommended that it might be a place to look at. So taking his advice we did.
One of the things that I really liked at our old church was the mix of music. It is a personal preference but I like a mix of traditional music (hymns) and contemporary. It is just that a preference. There is more to the church than the music and I know that. However when we walked in today and they had that mix down perfectly. It felt just wonderful. It was musically, by far the best church we have visited all summer.
I was feeling positive. Then there was the announcement time and the feeling started to fade. They were pushing (and I mean pushing) all the new stuff that is going to start next week. They even had a promotional video sketch to promote one of them. (Personal peeve - just because you can to show a video in church doesn't mean that you should) I guess it wouldn't have been quite so bad if they had not had it ALL already listed in the bulletin - and that was all that was there. No listing of what was going to be sung, no listing of what scripture was going to be used for the service just lists and lists of what else you can do.
Next was the part that clinched it: the "sermon". That was indeed the worst of times. I quickly found out why there was no scripture listed in the bulletin - scripture was almost totally unnecessary to what the preacher was talking about. It might have been a nice speech at a Kiwanis's club, but its reference to the Bible was passing at best. He was saying that we all need to change the things we are doing (which was true) but gave NO instruction as to how that could be done. It was definitely the gospel of works.
I remember when I was in high school and I heard about people who wrote to each other every day. I just couldn't understand that - what was there to talk about? When I was in college I met Tom and then I understood. I didn't intend to write every day but before long I was in love and I wanted to write every day. The same has been true with my relationship with God. I did pray the perfunctory, "Please bless so-and- so" or "Thank you for this and that" or "Please help me I need...." but that was it. Then I really got to know Him and all that changed. I can't wait to talk to him. The idea that I wouldn't spend time with Him is ridiculous. I love Him and with Him is where I want to be. I am looking for a church that has the same attitude about him that I do. Today was NOT it.
The sermon was from that first self -centered strength perspective. You need to do this. The point was missed entirely. It is not what you do or don't do. It is based on a relationship with God that makes you want to do it. Just wanting to by yourself will get you no where - the entire Old Testament shows that. To have a real and transforming relationship with God, you need, well, God.
When I left and I was very disappointed. I was so hopeful at the beginning. It started out so well and then it just flopped. But as I sit and write this now, I feel something even worse. There were so many there, who because of this sermon - and others like it, feel that if they just "try a little harder" that they can get "right" with God and in so doing only looking at themselves and miss him entirely. It is now where I really feel sad for those people.
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