Getting Back to Grandma’s Church

30 11 2010

Earlier today I came across this tweet from Carlos Whittaker, a guy who used to do Service Programming at my church back in Atlanta, Buckhead Church. He also has a blog called Ragamuffin Soul, which I love. But he tweeted this:

If yr church slogan is "This ain't yr grandmas church", I wld B remiss 2 let U know that many kids actually want their grandmas church

Those words made me stop and reflect for a moment about my experience in the church of the 21st century. While I don't really have a desire to go to my grandma's church (actually I don't really know very much about my grandma's church because I've only been there about once a summer while growing up), I do realize that there are certain things about grandma's church that were endearing, and that are missing from the church of today. Even when I think about the AME church that I grew up in, I'm reminded of the sense of family, the closeness. There's something about your pastor knowing your name and praying for you specifically, and likewise, you getting to know your fellow brothers and sisters and caring for them in real, practical ways.

There's also something about the simplicity of that old church growing up. We didn't have cameras or fancy lights or fog machines or rock concert-style worship. We sang hymns. The choir sang some contemporary songs but there was no need to rehearse an entire service because people showed up on Sunday ready to give God their best, and whatever happened in the service was left to God and the Holy Spirit, and the order and structure of the service that had already been established.

I know for me, in moving to DC, I made up in my mind that I wanted to get back to that mindset. I didn't want a production. I wanted to learn God's word. I wanted to engage with people. Plain and simple. I think grandma's church offered that, and I think that might be what many people in our fast-paced, individualistic, cyber culture are looking for. One of the main reasons I ended up joining Restoration Church is that there is not a whole lot of flash. The flash comes in the presentation of the gospel. The flash comes in sitting in a living room with people week after week and sharing and asking questions about the Bible and praying for each other. The flash comes in knowing that my pastors and my church family know me by name, and that they are praying for me in good times and bad, and I for them. I was looking for the simple truth of God's word in a way that would appeal to my spirit and intellect rather than relying on pleasing my external senses every time.

I'm not knocking production-based churches. I'm a product of several of them. As a matter of fact, I always say that if it wasn't for one of those churches in particular, I just might have walked away from Christianity altogether out of sheer frustration with church. They have their place. I just wonder sometimes if there will come a day when the appeal will diminish because people just want to keep it simple and just want to connect. I guess it's different strokes for different folks. And I guess we also go through seasons where we desire something different in a worship experience…Just a thought…

 

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