Think about that word for a minute. There’s lots of ways that it could be used. There’s the service that you do for someone else. Maybe a service you do to someone else! Then there is a service rendered to you or done to you. Sometimes it is a service that is done to your car or your house. In the economic sense, a service relates to a particular skill or ability that is rendered to or for someone else, as opposed to goods which are tangible products.
In the case of church, it is often referred to as a “service” as in “We attended the 11 a.m. service.” In a church service, who is doing the serving and who or Who is being served? In reading the gospels and the epistles, we are repeatedly enjoined to serve one another. “One another” is used over and over in the New Testament, where it is much less common in the Old Testament. I’m getting back at the theme of my last post, where I was musing about what church should be like and I’m still thinking about the “one-another-ness” that should be part of the body of Christ.
Last week, I had a chance to visit what this church’s version of “Celebrate Recovery.” Celebrate Recovery (CR) is their version of a 12 step program. Arwyn goes to a step group on Tuesday nights and then on Thursday night they have a special service. There is also a service on Wednesday night, which I haven’t attended, yet. Last week they had some baptisms during the CR service, and I’ll admit that it was handled much better than it was when Arwyn was baptized. However it was otherwise identical to a regular Sunday service only this was a somewhat smaller group. The pastor in this case was a different guy than I’ve seen on Sunday and had the virtue of not being as long winded as the senior pastor.
Arwyn and another guy have been trying to start a small group, which would be closer to the type of experience that I might be looking for. However this group is geared towards parents of children with disabilities. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, except I get a bit weary living and breathing disability all the time. Parents want to create a place where they and their children can feel comfortable and welcome, and this is certainly a pivotal factor in Arwyn’s decision to switch churches. This church seems to be able to handle things a bit better for these kids. However, there is still some friction as pastors are unsure how to proceed and so have put off any programming in this area. At least until after the building program is underway.
This past Sunday, we had a second small group meeting. It was quite small with two other families plus one other guy who was just interested in seeing what we were about. While we ate and our children ran amuck around the church building we talked about all the stuff every group of parents talk about when they get together. IEPs, the failure of the school to provide services, threatening the county director with due process, teachers who don’t know how to teach, doctors who don’t listen, special treatments, medications etc. You know, just regular stuff. What…you all don’t spend the whole time talking about disabilities? Neither did we, because I kicked the topic back in bounds and basically said I didn’t want to be part of a group so hyper-focused on disabilities that Jesus had no place. I’m also not into thinking all negative and getting into a woe-is-me mindset. Yes, it is hard. But it is not impossible or unbearable. We can help each other, but perhaps being more helpful and being less needy might be a direction to shoot for.
There were organizational issues that came up as with any new group. There were going to be some challenges ahead, for sure. I came into the meeting not sure I wanted to be there and left feeling about the same way. However during the get together I simply couldn’t stand to watch everyone drift around and drown so tried to give some tips on some baby steps to take and just a very brief bit of some of my concerns and ideas. I have done some things similar to this before in the way of starting and organizing groups from virtually nothing except the desire to hang out. My vision now is a bit more radical than it was even in earlier years of my faith. But I’m reluctant to just lead a group right on into it without more thought and guidance. I’m even reluctant to even launch straight into it here. I prefer to set the stage, voice some concerns and see what comes out. Are there others who would arrive at my conclusions? Are my own thoughts too far afield?
We’ll see. I’ve just finished the last and final bit of my LL series on Unsolicited Advice: WordPress and then I’m going to jump right off into it. Some of the work has already been started on the UA Blogger site and I’m going to continue that on WordPress because Blogger has proven itself to be of the devil!
But after attending more functions here at Saddleback East my unease has grown and increased. It’s not just Saddleback East as pretty much every church service follows the same template and formula. This one just happens to lack even the minimal substance that I had found at the Methodist church. It’s not just about the emotional experience as much as the worship experience of connecting with and learning about God. It has an appearance of Godliness but none of the power. What is up with that?