This has been on my heart a lot lately, and some people may be threatened by this non-traditional view I’m having, so rather than speak it, I’m going to blog it….for now anyway.

The other day, my day-care provider, B, and I were talking about our church. B is new to this kind of church, having been raised Lutheran, and is really working to develop a personal faith of her own. Her son is in 5th grade and recently told her he doesn’t like the new Sunday school curriculum, b/c it’s boring and “just like school.” Charlie Brown and I taught his class last quarter, under the “old” curriculum, but know what? We didn’t follow it 100%. Instead of focusing our questions and discussions solely around the kids – (which when you think about talking sin and shortcomings to the still relatively black and white thinkers present at ages 10-12, and their desire to please, they’re not going to admit ANYTHING!) we prefaced a lot of it with our own struggles and experiences, and as such, got much higher participation from the kids. I guess, from what B told me, the new curriculum for the children’s classes are much more worksheet oriented. This is too bad, because how are kids supposed to learn about the relational side of Christ from a two-dimensional sheet of paper? Concept application is not such a strength at this age, and in my opinion, modeling behavior is a much better teacher for this group. I told B that too, asking if she had approached the new children education coordinators about this.

I got to thinking about it, and it seems to carry over into our adult programs too. It being this scholastic, approach to our spirituality at church. Now, I am NOT saying we don’t need to study the Word to deepen our walk with Christ – because I wholeheartedly believe that we do.

But…I wonder…….

My church is a particular flavor of Christianity that is relatively young in comparison, to say, the Catholic and/or Anglican churches, and has a vision that seeks to be Bible-based, God and Christ-centered, and resemble the church in the New Testament. All of which are great things in my book.

But then, if we look at how we spend our time together in church on a Sunday morning…
**45 minutes Sunday school – which is usually study, versus personal testimonies
**15 minutes recess/visiting

Our service is typically 90 minutes, and if it’s broken down, usually looks like this – in no particular order:

**45 minute sermon
**10 minute announcements/prayer – be with the sick, job-seeking, etc – nothing really personal in most cases
**15 minute communion/offering
**20 minute songs and praise

Out of a weekly 2 1/2 hours, only 35 minutes is active praising the Lord and remembering what He has done for us. 1 1/2 hours is academic study of the Word. A mere 15 minutes to visit (none if you’re the mommy like me chasing down kids and finding a place to sit) and be relational with church family. And 10 minutes of business-like prayer.

So, I wonder…did the Corinthians talk at length about the letters they’d received from Paul – to the point that it grossly outweighed their time of fellowship and worship to the Lord? I don’t know – but I sure don’t picture it that way.

Where is our time of sharing how the Lord has worked in the lives of those beyond the preacher in the church this week?

Where is the confession of sins? By the way, Biblical scholars agree that “The Greek word hamartia is often translated as sin in the New Testament; it means “to miss the mark” or “to miss the target”.” So, if we bear that in mind, and also heed James 5:16, shouldn’t everyone be going forward to the congregation on Sunday, instead of only those with scandalous secret sins, i.e. adultery, addictions, etc? Somehow it seems people have decided that sin worthy of confession are those which violate a commandment of God, a la the Old Testament – when in fact, anything that misses the mark for God’s will in our lives, an unkind word, road rage, bitterness, etc, should be confessed so that we can become better!

Where is the adoration and worship of the Lord, not constrained by time or tradition? Who decided 4 praise songs, 1 communion song, and 1 invitation, or any other “theme” for worship? Where is the priority placed when active worship – read audience participation – accounts for little more than 1/10th of the Sunday service?

I know, I know…we as individuals can increase our worship in our households and personal lives. I just can’t explain that connection I feel to the Lord when my spiritual family is communing with me in that process – and would like more of it.

I LOVE my church family – they’re my closest friends in the world. And I LOVE our preacher, and the way his sermons steer me to self-examination and motivation, as well as how this exact thing has promoted unity within our body as people are more focused on where their hearts are, as opposed to judging others.

I’m probably one of few who would like to meet longer and more frequently, but in addition to that, I’d like to share more, encourage more, and worship more with my family – and with things the way they are right now – there’s just not much time allocated for that. There are so many secret hurts among us, I know, and how do we foster an environment to share, trust, and lean upon each other with such ugly burdens? Certainly not in these tailored services….hurt just doesn’t fit that mold, and we’re creatures of habit.