Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Poodles on Parade

since i am venturing on a church hunt, i thought i'd go back and read the first post that began my blogging service. is that funny, that i called it a service? i do sincerely believe that voicing honest perception and adding biblical truth is a service to the Church... for our betterment, our healing, our focus, and our future. if i had not love for the Church, i would also be void of hope. i am filled with hope! and so without further ado... so begins the Poodle Parade.

I don't want to get angry with the way things are, but I have to admit I am frustrated. It just seems as though there is so much wasted energy in the church. Everyone is running around doing something, but what are we accomplishing? What are we building?

I surveyed a few church websites recently and took a special interest in reading up on the ministries they offered. Most of the ministries offered were for the purpose of the weekend services. Ushers, Music, Greeters, Media, Parking Lot, Children, Youth, Translators, Custodial, etc. If we took away the "Service" could then the church find any other way to serve? The bigger the event, the more energetic hands needed, the more smiling faces required.

Remember when the church had ministries that served people beyond the armspan of a Service. Meaning, the Church itself is a service to everyone within reach and even beyond. The fact that people gathered made it church, the 'Service' is our ritual. I enjoy services for the most part. I like to sing songs with friends and smile and look pretty and even more than that I appreciate the encouragement through the word and the challenge to live louder when a decision is made by a "new comer" to choose Christ.
I go to gather. I go to hear. I go because it is a part of what keeps me healthy. I go to Give. I go to have conversations and experience the presence of God with others and not just on my own. I do not go to be entertained. I do not go to find the answers. I do not go to be noticed. I do not go to meet God.
So sometimes when I am walking through the double doors and I see the "festivities" beginning and the folks are taking their places, and the serious faces are speaking into hidden mics and the singers are awaiting their cue and the video roles and the lights begin to dazzle, I whisper to myself, "Oye with the poodles already". And then I stand and courteously join in.

Originally Posted May 27, 2008

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Church Hunting Season...

So it's about that time again folks... It's Church hunting season! I've been feeling lately that it's time to settle in somewhere and be a part of something, but oh what an adventure this can be.

There are a few things I had to settle on before I began my research: what area of ministry am I targeting, am I going "local" or outreach, & am I wanting to find support/friendship? The rest of the details seem to be worked out easily when these 3 questions are answered. Here were my results: Music is making a comeback in my life. Definitely a local church. And yes, I am looking for relationship building opportunities. Step one complete:)

Now moving on to the process of choosing a local church that would allow me to serve in music & is attended by people that I can truly relate to. I've got a few places in mind, but most are churches that I've never been to, only heard about. I am extremely uncomfortable visiting churches & a hand shake or a hug doesn't ease this anxiety at all. I hate the feeling of being in room with hundreds of people who claim to be family and have the hardest time being natural with each other. But in order to choose a church, one must attend a church.

First impressions are lasting impressions. When I finally make it past the lobby greeting, I'll proceed to find a seat. Are there tons of reserved seats? If so, boo! Is there loud music forcing a predetermined energy level? Boo! Are there young people and senior citizens? Yes? Yippee! Are there kids in the service? Yep? Hmmm... Wonder if the children's dept. sucketh. Enough of that, the service is beginning.

Is worship a production or an opportunity to unite us in the presence of our maker? What I mean is, are my eyes watering from the fog machines or the presence of God? Ha ha ha, I made a funny! Are the stage people diverse in age, ethnicity, gender, & personal style? It just matters to me. How many people on that stage have the same last name? Not a deal breaker, just curious. Do I get a sense that I am surrounded by genuine people or church droids? Hmm.

On to the word... 5 points or 7 points? Malachi during offering time? Is this being recorded for TV? Was the sermon pulled from trending topics or from the latest Christian self help book? It's just my process folks. Does the speaker disappear behind a curtain when it's all done or maybe he'll make his way to the back of the church and shake our hands as we exit. i love that! Does the worship team hang out with the congregation or do they head to the back for a snack & a chat with the other stage people? It matters. Does anyone even talk to me? We'll see.

If I'm thinking this may be the place, then perhaps I attend for a month or so playing secret agent, testing the waters, asking all the right questions, giving all of my honest answers. Will I have to clean toilets or work in the nursery before I'm allowed to sing? No? Woohoo! Glad to see grace in operation. Do I join a team, do a casual audition (not american idol style), and we'll see how it goes from there? Count me in. Umm wait... Is there a worship pastor? You know, someone with a revelation & vision for worship that's been granted spiritual authority & artistic freedom to genuinely lead the people in worship? There is? Perfect. How often does the team rehearse? Once a week sounds totally doable!

Then it's time to join a class, or a small group, or perhaps a bible study. I decided to go "local", so I'll join a group that's close by. I'll cross my fingers and hope to God that this is it... friends will be made! Are they doing a book study? If so, who's the author? Oh no, not that guy. Deal breaker. Perhaps I'll find another group. Wait, the whole church is studying that guy's book? Urggh! Okay, I'll go anyway and try to behave. Do the groups socialize outside of the designated time frame? Very cool. Are these people genuine, legalistic, ambitious, or well trained? Genuine!!! Yippee!!! I can see sparks!!! 3 weeks in, perhaps I'll join them on an outside venture. We're building homes for Habitat for Humanity and getting free Disney passes and then actually giving those passes to the kids of the families who come weekly to receive groceries from the benevolence ministry at the church? Hell yeah! I have found my home;-)

Okay okay, I know this may sound cynical, critical, nit-picky, or perhaps perfect, but what if we treated "choosing a church" the way we are instructed to "choose a mate"? Settling on a less than a "workable" fit for either seems foolish and hey...Partnership is partnership. It's church hunting season folks and this is my process;-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

diving into love

This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. John 15:12 Msg

this is the type of love that i am pondering today. the love that you dive into, knowing full well that it may not have longevity or permanence. the love that you risk by giving yourself for a brief moment in time knowing full well that this moment may be just that... a moment. the love that pushes you to open wide the gates of your heart in hopes that it may provoke another to open wide the gates of their heart. and with that risk, perhaps for that season, you may know love. you may feel what it's like to connect with a soul. you never know. you never know where the dive will take you.

diving off of a ledge into a pool seems risky... but there are too few options and possible consequences. you are bound by the concrete borders and it's sink or do laps. perhaps a game or two, a little bobbing, and then a siesta on a brightly colored inner tube. you can bring a drink with you, you can have your toys, you can have your music and still keep your towel near by. but when you dive into an ocean there is a wild abandonment, a risk, a rush, a fear, a sense of wonder... you may never have to come back to shore.

what is the greater relief? that the shore is never out of site or that the concrete walls are non existent. the ocean is a road without lanes, a forest without trees, a sky without gravity. the ocean is unpredictable. the ocean is dangerous. the ocean is wild. but the ocean is still under God's domain and our God-gifted dominion. He blesses the discovery of love through abandonment. He identifies with this kind of love. He knows not of the love that fears. He hasn't felt the love that hesitates and retreats. perhaps because that isn't really love.

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

Harriet van Horne

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

i'm the best and greatest... a blog about the flattery of the saints.

my name is julia.

i have the most amazing family.
i have the most amazing boyfriend.
i have the most amazing job.
i have the prettiest eyes.
i have the most potential.
i pray the best prayers.
i throw the best parties.
i support the most important causes.
i go to the best church. they have the best music.
i am the bestest friend.
i am the most beautiful woman in the world.
i am the greatest kid.
i am the most talented writer.
i am the most anointed worship leader.
i am the best singer up there.
i am the greatest nanny of all time.
i am the most mature person in the room.
i am the holiest & most righteous by far.
i am the smartest, brightest, and wisest.
i am the safest driver.
i am the quickest grocery shopper.
i am the most frugal.
i am the best house cleaner.
i am the greatest auntie.
i am the greatest sister.
i am the bestest girlfriend.
i am the most generous person you know.
i am the most thoughtful person you know.
i am the most nurturing person you know.
i am the most like Jesus.

by now you're probably nauseous! i don't blame you. this is silly. obviously i don't believe any of that stuff. but i have thought it. mostly because i have been told it. i remember sitting in my pew as a little girl listening to the guest speaker at church saying, "this is my lovely wife. church don't you know i was blessed with the most beautiful woman in the world! and in the first row are my 3 children. God has blessed me with the most amazing, talented, God-fearing kids." i remember thinking "hmm...that's what the most beautiful woman in the world looks like? and what's so special about those kids?" there was a seed of competition planted in me on that day and a seed of flattery planted within that man's family. when someone compares us to another human being (apart from Christ), it's as if we are being set up to fail... tested even. comparison kills.

since then i have heard it time and time again. sometimes word for word, but mostly in different variations. i often refuse to check my facebook on sunday mornings because i get urrghhdd with all the "best church", "favourite speaker", "pastor so & so really tore it up today" commentary. it's goofy. sorry, but it is. and it's... dare i say, "anti-Christ". it directly goes against the flow of what Christ set up for His Church. flattery kills.

i'm not in the mood to point fingers today. my hands are sore from all the typing of how amazing i am. but i just wanted to possibly get us to stop and think for a moment... "why do we say goofy stuff like that?" "how does it profit us and how does it endanger us and others?"

"...we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original." Galatians 6:4 Msg

perhaps it's time to move on to those "far more interesting things" to do with our lives and steer clear of foolish flattery and mindless comparisons. perhaps;-)