The Perfect Church Service – the Worst Experience

13 12 2007

worship1.jpgI posted some questions about the church on a forum I frequent and received some enlightening responses I’d like to share (with their permission).

Below is perhaps the most thorough and thoughtful description of a church service I’ve ever read from the perspective a new comer.

WARNING: His language is real and raw and we hereby deny any liability for flashbacks or offenses that may result. It’s important to see things from a variety of perspectives and as these churches almost always give new comers feedback cards that come back with canned responses, here’s what you won’t get in your survey.

Enjoy –

“My biggest issue with church is the suffocating emotionality of it all.

First, I pull into the parking lot and make my way past the hip, extroverted greeters who high five the youngsters and give me the over-friendly welcomes.

Then I make my way through the halls of people milling about and chattering. This part isn’t so bad except that I get the distinct feeling that everyone is “being Christian” at this point. All the body language and vernacular seems calculated to reflect their true Christian core. Everyone is suddenly called brother and sister and the amount of caring they show over the most trivial aspects of each others lives is both impressive and disturbing. Frankly, I suspect many of them are just doing what they think a dutiful Christian should do with no actual understanding why they should even care.

After that, I sit in the pew and consider why I’m there. Why did I come to Church? What am I seeking? What is going on here.

About 5 to 10 minutes later, some lead vocalist person shouts into the mic “Let’s all stand up and praise the Lord!” and the cool-Christian-rock-band tears into an up-tempo worship number. Wow, everyone is having such a GOOD TIME! The vocalist inevitably starts clapping in time to the snare hits while bopping their head and lyrics from the powerpoint slide flash across those nifty projection screens backed with some artsy-fartsy image of a cross or serene lake or the clear blue sky. The music is usually based on a verse from Psalms, but fixed up to show that this church understands rock and roll and is cool with youthful energy.

Some people in the congregation squish their eyes shut and extend their arms upwards and palms out while getting real into this praise and worship time. Others, bop and clap along with the beat and others stand next to their spouse seeming very robotic like.

After 10 to 15 minutes, someone (usually the worship/music director) segues into a soothing piano piece. Everyone closes their eyes, the lights dim and (s)he starts a prayer in a voice that, frankly, sounds like they’re getting good oral. Very breathy and overwhelmed by the majesty of the Father.

The worst part is when they (sometimes) do the “let’s turn around and greet each other this morning” and the pews come to life with hugs, handshakes and more over friendly greetings.

At this point, I feel like a turtle that’s having it’s shell ripped off by a bunch of curious, but unruly schoolboys and the actual message hasn’t even been delivered yet. Once we get to that part, I’m fine. But once it’s over we have to back to more flamboyant praise-and-worship. Ugh.

It’s just the sheer ritual, robotic, trance-like nature of it all. Very uncomfortable to me. And I don’t dare ask questions or tell people that I’m not a Christian. Or tell them I’m a truth seeker who’s read just as much of the Hindu and Buddhist texts as I have the Bible. They’re not so happy-go-lucky then.

I just hate being around anything that tries to twist my emotions around before delivering some bit of self-proclaimed truth. I wonder if lots of people in the congregation are like that. Is their knowledge of God just what they get after hearing some loud worship songs and being told what they already know? Or do they go home and read texts authored by apologists from other religions when they’re not emotionally high?”



7 responses

14 12 2007

Definitely got some flashbacks there as I’m sure you did too.

14 12 2007

Yah, I keep suddenly waking up in the middle of the night with cold sweats.

His description of people acting Christian is so disturbingly accurate. It’s like everyone puts on their Christian suits, Christian smiles and Christian language to all act their part in a plastic play for 2 hours every week.

18 12 2007

Holy crap (can I say that?)…

To think I used to be that worship leader… wow.

19 12 2007
Rev22: Whoever Is Thirsty, Let Him Come » Are Sermons Destroying Christianity?

[…] to round things out check out this description of a church service in a comment by a […]

19 12 2007

yah…were not we all that worship leader at one time 🙂

26 03 2008
about church services. « explore.

[…] “The Perfect Church Experience –  The Worst Experience” […]

18 06 2009
Me My God and I

This is a very good topic and a very disturbing one. I totally understand where this persons is coming from. I, like many christian, had to have God really do a great work to bring me to where I am now.

But why wouldn’t we expect this from someone caught up in the world. No matter what we do there will be some who will reject the things of God. The scary thing is when Christians start feeding into this type of talk. We must remain strong even through this type of persecution. Yes, I called it persecution because since nowadays you can’t outright kill someone or something, the way to kill it is to belittle it. The enemy of God desires to kill and destroy and what better way than to cause us to stop seeing the importance in our work for the kingdom of God.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of needed changes in the way we operate as a church community but to bring condemnation upon ourselves because of the view of unbelievers would be foolish. Godspeed.

Read 1 corinthians 1:18-30. This is nothing new.
This persons experience was purely from an critically analytical stand point and with no desire to

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