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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


make sure my casket's closed

cally mentioned our discussion at vandelay on sunday... i'm trying to figure out what is keeping me going to church. not that it's harmful... indeed, the more time i spend during a given week connecting with God, the better. the five or so minutes of communion on sundays are what i look forward to the most. the rest of the hour or so surrounding that time, though, is what i'm trying to understand. what is it doing? is it bringing me closer to God, or becoming an obligation that forces a duty on me that i resent, and wedging itself between me and God?

does it even have an effect on my relationship with him at all anymore?

let me first pre-address a handful of things that commonly come up with this rather touchy topic:

- when i refer to 'church' in this post, i'm talking traditional, show up to an organized service run by some people at a church building. this does not disqualify the 'home church' thing or small groups or whatever - indeed, those may or may not be better, more healthy, more useful for some people. whatever blows your skirt up.

- i'm not of the belief that going to church officially 'makes' you a follower of Jesus, or a Christian, or whatever. and consequently, i think if you don't go regularly, you can still be a follower of Jesus. the question i'm posing here involves the relative 'spiritual health' of someone that does or does not go regularly - is the 'quality' of one's relationship with God (if 'quality' is a measurable thing here) affected by going to church or not?

this is mostly a talking-out of what it is i am looking for in a church, place of worship, etc. why do i go? is it even about what i want? many will read this and say "you are being selfish! it's not about you, it's about what God wants, giving him glory, etc." to which i would respond, partly true, however, if it becomes detrimental, painful, irritating, etc. to go, if it becomes a burden, how does it glorify God?

i can say without hesitation that i feel connected with God, as much as i ever have in these past ten years. i don't feel bad about going to church, or angry, or irritated. i don't feel much joy, either. that said, i love lifespring. i feel the relationships i've built there are excellent, and i value the people, but the service - the program, the music and the messages/sermons/whatever - they don't rev my engine. what does is seeing the people there.

so i could get more involved, spend more time with those people. but while i enjoy being around them, becoming involved in church projects/programs to hang out with them... i don't know, i don't feel like i need a lot more relationships right now, or a lot more things to be involved in.

so is it cool to just keep showing up, say hey for ten minutes after the service, and go home? lifespring is big on being involved, doing something there. but i don't want to find another church, either. i've done the looking around thing... i doubt i could find someplace "better". and by "better" here it sounds like i mean "won't want me to get so involved".

honestly maybe much of this push is just because i get asked to be involved in stuff there occasionally and the guilt from turning them down is irritating me. but why am i feeling guilty? because i want to spend more time with my wife and my friends, because my organized ministry has become new leader training, because i've been in the place where all of my time is eaten up with obligation and it burned me out...

bottom line, things don't feel settled. i should want to go to this place. and i feel a pull sunday mornings but it's mainly out of obligation, which i don't want. and i don't want to find another church - it's not necessary, as i'll feel this way about whereever i go. i suppose i could switch to the vineyard or crossroads or grace where a lot of my other friends go, but again, that's not a solution to the real issue - why do i go? is 'organized church' necessary for someone who (a) has a ministry that they're a part of (2) has close friends who are also followers of Jesus (d) has a place where they're tithing (q) feels like the messages they're hearing are old news, like there's not much more to learn from the place?

have i used church up like the Borg? exhausted every useful resource from it, and now it's time to move on?

am i expecting too much out of it? should my expectations be lower? do i see church like the president: i have a dream in my head about how a president should be (Jed Bartlet) and the real version (GWB) seems pitiful and weak in comparison? or is it too much to expect to show up sundays and feel moved, wowed, feel more passionate towards God?

heck, is church the problem or am i? maybe it's backwards. maybe the passion comes from me and fills the place, and not vice versa.


maybe i'm just not as passionate with God as i have been in the past. is that what's missing?

did i just answer my own question?


for this post

Blogger MikeE Says:

Ahh yes ... good times. I'll start this off with the old line: "I'm no expert but..."

I think I goto church to worship God (I usually like the worship music at the vineyard). The music helps me focus on things I want to say to God and to hear things I think God is saying to me. Its not the only way but its another way.

I also hit up church because I like to see the people there. I like to interact with them and its the only place that I get to see pretty much all my friends and people I interact with in one place. Its encouraging to me.

I give money to the church and other ministries but to be honest everything is electronic these days so you really don't need to go anywhere to give people money :)

In the end I think 'the Church' is where people who need a place to plug in can go. Its also a place to express their gifts. Many people have other outlets (YL, NAVs, etc) but some people don't.

If you feel that you are able to worship and serve God without church then I guess you are. I guess I would say that you should not get lazy or comfortable in anything that you do. I think God wants you out there doing things for Him and he wants to you be on the edge. Maybe you do need to go somewhere else and put yourself out there. New leader training isn't year round and so maybe you do something else while that is not happening?

Just some thoughts.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

nice points. i think what i concluded was, there's nothing wrong with lifespring, or church in general. i am the problem.

you mentioned worship: i didnt say much about this in the post... but i mentioned it on sunday at vandelay... i get kind of bored and distracted during worship at church, it doesn't do it for me much anymore. mainly cause i'm not a 'read the words on the screen -> think about them -> convert that to conversation with God' type of person. it doesn't focus me or guide me or anything, it more gets in my way. i realize that's strange and fairly uncommon. i think maybe that your typical church service wasn't built around a person wired like i am.

anyway, thanks for the comments, as usual. who knows - maybe i do need 'something else' to do. maybe it'll make me less lazy and comfortable. maybe that's just a band-aid and it will end up making me feel more pressured and weighed down. maybe i should just direct that energy at spending quality time with God.

maybe i should get Snow's Informer out of my head. ARGH

Blogger B-Call Says:

no, you don't want to do that.
just keep that playing. you'll be aight.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

a leaky boom boom now

Blogger MikeE Says:

Keep Snow on ... do it. Your a better man for it.

Let me throw this out:
Worship just ain't music ... its a mentality, a way of life.

Blogger B-Call Says:

kind of like bocci ball

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

wow that was deep, mikey, did you pull that from a bumper sticker, or a christian t-shirt? :)

the issue here is not that worship itself is bad. i usually end up zoning out during those songs, listening to the thoughts in my head about me and God, occasionally talking to him.

but there are plenty of things that i can compliment God on. because i don't naturally have those kinds of conversations with him, though, i look for places, things to take me in that direction. what has traditionally done that isn't quite working anymore.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

do you ever feel like you are reading a book on shakespeare, and you have a question about what something means, and you open a calculus book to find the answer?

i feel like that's what i'm doing here.

but, crap, i don't need answers, or knowledge. that's still not what i need.

passion, remember that? can you set me on fire? use a little magic aim-n-flame, put me somewhere that will make me jump?

Blogger mr. e Says:

I just read your post and a bunch of thoughts came to my head because I've been thinking along the same lines recently.

My first thought (for myself) was to find another church, but a perfect church for me doesn't exist. There will always be something that bothers me. I also think most churches that I would go to are like mine.

So next, I need to figure out why I go and if I'm getting anything out of it and if the point is for me to get something out of it. Then I think about how I should feel excited to go to church, and wonder why I don't feel that way. It's not yet an obligation for me, and when I don't want to go, I always feel better for going. So I've started to think about what course of action I want to take.

Which means my advice is find a way that's best for you. Make your own game plan. Be careful not to follow human nature and only include comfortable stuff. Personally, I want to learn the Bible inside and out, which means discipline and time, and for me, this won't be easy. I can happily read books about the Bible all day long, but for some reason, I have difficulty reading the real thing.

Blogger ryanham Says:

So...IANAP (priest, pastor, patriarch, prophet..whatever), but I have bounced around the country enough, and had to find a church home enough times to spend introspective time discovering why I need a church. Here's what I found out:

I need a church because I don't have the luxury of a solid group of Christian friends to meet with weekly for fellowship. You have that, you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know...erm..back on topic. Anyway, I needed church, and specifically worship (cause I'm a musical type) to feel "filled" cause the weekly fellowship just isn't there.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

as usual, it begins with a conversation with God. he likes to keep that part simple. that's how he rolls, in my experience. it was a difficult conversation to have - for me - but we worked things out, as always.

thanks for your thoughts, everyone.


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