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20 October 2010 @ 11:37 pm
My monthly (bimonthly?) whining about Church  
I'm feeling really dissatisfied with the Senior Pastor at my church, Chip Ingram. You see, earlier this fall we started a new sermon series called "Spiritual Simplicity," which runs from September 11th through October 31st. In the weeks leading up to the launch, Chip said again and again that if we committed eight weeks to the series, coming to church every week and going to our small group meetings, we would see amazing growth in our Christian journey. Great! Wonderful! Can't wait to start!

Trouble is, Chip himself can't be troubled to keep that commitment. He took off to Korea for two weeks, smack in the middle of the series, to promote his r12 Christian/Living on the Edge ministry. I found this very disappointing. Considering we're all reading Chip's book for this series, who could better teach this material than our Senior Pastor? In the past, he's stated that all of these sermons are planned out months in advance, so frankly, Chip probably could have shifted his schedule around and managed to be here for all eight weeks. But ministering to the Venture flock isn't his job; he has a whole team of other people to take care of that. It often seems like Chip's big priority is promoting Chip and trying to turn r12 into the next Purpose Driven Life.

Venture Christian Church just doesn't feel like a community anymore. There are security guards stationed throughout the building during services to make sure you don't wander off. When you walk in the auditorium - frankly, I can't call it a sanctuary - it's nearly impossible to find a familiar face. Many of the fun, community-building events from the past, like the annual Christmas pageant and "Trunk or Treat" have been cut. On the back of each program is an indirect reminder to tithe: each week there's a total for how much has been given vs. how much the church needs. I wish there was a little more transparency about where all that money is going.

I suppose there may be transparency; I've never asked to see information about church spending.

I don't think I'm an inactive member of the church. I try to go to services every Saturday night. I tithe. I have an adopted kid in Ethiopia that Seanie and I support through the church. I am a member of a small group. I would very much like to take some of the classes offered - but they aren't offered during times that I can be at the church.

But all I ever feel is increasingly alienated from the pastors and the message of the Church.
tryptonymphetictryptonymphetic on November 2nd, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
I always read your posts like these and wonder if it's appropriate for me to comment... I don't want to seem like the former atheist exploring the occult student rubbing her paws maniacally at the thought of you losing your faith. It's not the case - I've always loved your honesty about your thoughts and relationship with your faith and I find it saddening that you're having these feelings of alienation.

With that said, I've never really seen you as a person who needed much guidance with anything. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think religion just makes people try too hard. I've known a lot of people who get more out of studying their Bibles at home, alone once or twice a day, in quiet and honest reflection than they ever did trying to assimilate into a flock they couldn't find anything else in common with. You may even find that backing off from formal attendance and classes to do some independent study may be beneficial, and eventually a community you feel more at ease with will gravitate towards you.
Suzik00kaburra on November 2nd, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
One of the things I admire most about the early Christians (1st, 2nd centuries) is the strong community ties the house churches had. So I think a great deal of my quest to 'not go it alone' stems from the fact that so few early Christians did; I think the community is an integral part of the religion. It's an extremely social religion when it's 'done right' although goodness knows it rarely is. :-p

But I love it when you post. I don't have a lot of people in my life who are active participants in a non-Christian religion, and I think it's important to be aware of what others do and think when considering one's own religion.
Nechtan Albaflameelf on November 3rd, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
I'm curious about the security--if you TRY to wander off, what do they do?

I think you're more like me in many ways; I think a community is good, but I also now feel a too-established church becomes too business-as-usual and promotion takes over from evangelism.

Have you considered shopping for another church? It's kind of a pain, but if you find the 'right one', you'd be really happy. Most of the time you can do these visitations during evening or special services and still attend your current church on Sundays until you're ready to make the jump.

Grey ;)
Suzik00kaburra on November 5th, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
You know, I've never tried to wander off so I don't know. That might be worth finding out! I would guess that it involves calling the police they hire to monitor traffic in and out of the church, but that seems extreme...

I just learned a few days ago that men can't change diapers in the nursery. Only women. Because men do bad things, or something. Isn't that a weird rule?

I would love to shop for another church, but unfortunately I work on Sunday mornings and it's difficult to find Saturday evening services. As soon as I find another church within a reasonable distance (one thing I like about my current church is I can walk to services) that has Saturday services, I'll try to check them out.