I Had to Laugh … Fishing and Cutting Bait

DSC_3951_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFile - CopyIt’s official. I am now old and my church doesn’t care what I think. Not that my opinion has been keeping the old girl afloat all these years, but it’s now official.

We have new décor at our church and I don’t like it. I’m not going to describe it because to do so would bring out my long knives. Just let me quote Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner character from “The Avengers,” “Well, this is pretty … terrible.

I’m not going to be one of those people who huffs out the doors over the color of the new carpet or choir robes. By-the-bye, for over 30 years I’ve heard about those sorts of epic struggles in the Body of Christ and have yet to see one. Pettiness has been a feature of every church I’ve attended but most splits  have been ignited by differing doctrine, and once theology was the detonator.

Anyway, for a long time I’ve disliked the music at our church. Church music has been shifting for a while and I haven’t shifted with it. My problem is that I am not musical. I have little in the way of rhythm, and cannot carry a tune. I forget the words unless they are printed out and I’m just too busy actually thinking about the words and their meaning to try and keep time. Let’s just say that praise and worship for me is difficult. We have never been a hymnal kind of church—those I do well with, figures—and so have always used projections systems. Over a year ago  we started using backgrounds with motion. These were a problem for me as my eyes are lousy, which means the movement plays tricks with the lettering. I was/am also distracted trying to find the point at which the movement starts to loop. This coupled with the Jesus-is-my-boyfriend nature of current worship music, and you see I’m really in trouble.

LightsBack to the décor. With the lights–yes, there are lights–and new textured surfaces, there is even more to see. The lights on the new features stay on during the sermon so I have even more to distract me.

Here’s the crazy, upside-down part of this: our pastor’s sermons are excellent.

Most people have complaints about dry, irrelevant preaching. Not so here. I have nothing negative to say in that regard.

My problem is the the falderal that surrounds the sermons. For me, it’s like being a fan of chocolate and only being able to get liver-wrapped truffles. Ugh.

We have no plans to leave because every church has it’s problems and I am comfortable with this set and have no interest in getting used to those of others.

My daughter just pointed out some wisdom that very much applies to my situation: “Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert (distract)  me I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” – Jane Austen.

I am famous for saying you learn the most from reading badly written books. When reading a bad book you learn what not to do with characters and plot, you learn what you really dislike in storytelling, and when there is a good turn-of-phrase it stands out brilliantly. I suppose I should be prepared to learn what really matters to me in a church setting. I think I’m going to be learning and laughing  a lot.

Take care.

13 thoughts on “I Had to Laugh … Fishing and Cutting Bait

  1. Jennie Coleen Newbrand

    Great post! I agree with so much of what you said. I’ve often thought that the attempts to make church more entertaining comes from people that have spent their whole lives at church and they get bored or they are worried about appealing to people outside the church or they are trying to compete with the church down the street.

    All I can say is that I became a Christian at age 30 and I also dislike the “praise” music and the rock bands and all the other attempts to make church exciting and entertaining. I think church should be different from everything else in your life – a different sort of experience from attending a party or rock concert. It’s not supposed to be about me and my entertainment.

    Like you said, there’s not much you can do about it, and I applaud your determination to stay even though you’re not enthusiastic or supportive of the changes. Fortunately, my church is too small to be able to afford any of the fancy stuff!

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  2. Robin Helm

    I like (and play) all sorts of music. The idea that church must be entertaining has been around at least 35 years. When I was about 25, I was teaching a youth class. One of the teen guys stopped coming, and his mom told me that it wasn’t fun. Really? Was I supposed to tap dance? Kids and adults are used to having unlimited entertainment at their fingertips at all times. I’m all for using technology to enhance teaching and preaching. I like to have the sermon points and Scriptures on the screens. However, much of the music today has no depth. It’s catchy, easy, and forgettable. There are some contemporary songs, though, that will last, such as “Amazing Grace, My Sins Are Gone” and “In Christ Alone.” I like a blend of traditional and contemporary.

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      Unfortunately, the demographics of culture now drive church life. There are lots of consultants and articles that tell what various groups are looking for in a church. Unfortunately we chase after a lot of the empty desires of people who are searching for something, but don’t know what.

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      1. Robin Helm

        That is true in large part; however, in my church, we still have a strong group of traditionalists, so we have three services: 2 contemporary and 1 traditional. I play in all three, so I have a healthy dose of both every Sunday.

        I think people are searching for a relationship with Christ which is very much like a human relationship. It’s not going to happen. Jesus is not a boyfriend. They want to feel great emotions, and that happens sometimes, but it’s not a way of life.

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  3. Sophia Rose

    I go to a tiny small town church that would probably be most people’s definition of staid and/or boring b/c its just a platform with a pulpit and choir loft, hymns sung from a book to a piano and a few instruments maybe some power point now and then. I had a sensory overload the first time I attended my in-law’s church and honestly couldn’t tell you what was sung or preached. I’ve tried again and still get too distracted to pay attention to the important stuff so I’ll be polite and attend when I visit, but secretly I’m happy to be in my own church where I can focus on the message of word and song. Good on you for your attitude toward change. I hope I can be as generous and flexible when the time comes for me.

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      what interests me is that so many younger people–Millennial, the holy grail of new church membership–have talked about authenticity ad nauseam and I can’t see that LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! backgrounds are any more authentic in church than in a Hollywood studio.

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      1. Sophia Rose

        Oh yes, I’m very familiar of the wisdom of youth having worked with teens for 15 years and then in my job of 20years my caseload consisted of young twenty-something parents. My dad said he feared growing old b/c then he’d become invisible. I didn’t know what he meant years ago when he said it, but I get it now. Youth has a loud mouth. 😉

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        1. Susan Kaye Post author

          LOL! Isn’t it amazing how they clamor and we respond? And what I am sure of is, if they knew how much I detest the changes, it would nag at them until they could try and convince me of the wonderfulness of it all. To be fair, that’s not youth, that’s human folly.😉

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  4. Laura Hile

    Even if you wanted to find a church with more traditional music, good luck with that. So many of the churches here in the Portland suburbs have gone to the worship band style, eliminating the old-school church choir.

    The sad thing is the loss of musical skills that comes when a congregation no longer participates. Ah, well. The pendulum style swings one way and then the other.

    Please tell me you did not take the photo at your church. That bright blue lighting would certainly be a distraction. We have black draperies from ceiling to floor, but no lights.

    Funny, my grandparents’ generation would say this style looks, well, like a bar or a casino!🙂

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      No, the lights aren’t the ones in our church. I think my taking a pic so I can complain about them is in bad taste. The real lights are worse. They are pastel, candy-colored blue and green. The lights are at odds with some other aspects of the remodel. It’s jangled and lacks subtly and taste. It’s a lot like a plot that rattles. Black curatains would be welcome.

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  5. Gayle Mills

    All of the vibrating color, pounding music, and ever-changing screens are distractions from the real work of worship: humbling proud hearts to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It’s hard to hear that still, small voice when you’re craving sunglasses and a pair of earbuds.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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