Are most churches mindless formulas ?

are the routines that most churches adopt meaningful?

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Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby ique » Wed May 19, 2010 3:22 am

this is a problem that's been bothering me for a long time now. ponder it and please be kind to me, i'm just trying to get this sorted - and i'm open to the possibility that the churches might be insane or that I'M in fact the one who's insane. or both.
i also mean no offence, and cheers to the people who bother to read this large explosion of text.

so listen. i've been to heaps of churches. it goes like this, i'm sure you're familiar with it.
you enter. there's a lobby where some greeters stand and hand you a pamphlet with the message and announcements and stuff.
then you walk into the auditorium where music is playing and find a seat. the music is generally a few chords on guitar, some drums, possibly keyboard, and singers singing very simplistic lyrics over and over. generally, i hear recurring songs in every church.
you're put through a series of standing and sitting exercises. "please stand. you may sit down. please stand. you may sit down".
some people raise their arms in worship. i often ask God if there is something wrong with me, because nothing about that music compels me to lift my arms in praise. i wish i could.

eventually someone makes announcements or a short message. it's usually someone other than the pastor. i'm not quite sure on church ranks or how that works, but they often lead a short prayer after announcements and whatnot.

sometime after that the pastor comes and preaches a message. if it's not altogether wrong, it's generally quite useless. sometimes they quote a passage out of context that's seemingly unrelated to anything they're saying, and fail to explain what was actually happening in or around the passage. this vexes me.
one time i remember this man preaching about when you need something from your neighbour because a friend has come to you and is going on a trip but you have nothing to offer him. he kept knocking on the wall. he really, really put emphasis on knocking on your neighbour's door. and you keep knocking. and knocking. and knocking. until your neighbour comes out. and i never did catch what the message was. because if that was it, i don't get it.

at some point in the sermon, tithing is mentioned, and an offering basket is passed around. now, i haven't studied this much on my own, but from what i understand, tithing was an old testament thing and tithes were in livestock, not monetary units. so it just seems like they're overmilking it with how many sermons are centred on tithing.

after the message, there's another prayer, and then more music and standing and sitting etc.
some churches i've been to spontaneously pause (ok maybe not completely spontaneously) and ask people to go greet their neighbour. it seems like a sound concept but it's usually very awkward and weird.

the overall feeling i get is that i'm standing in the middle of a big veil of fluff and smiles, but have no notion as to what's beneath it.
what disturbs me is that it just seems like a mass-produced factory product, spat out of a machine along with 5000 other ones, with the same patterns and the same people and the same music. we criticise the secular world for mindlessly following fads, and these are our churches? isn't this the same problem?

acceptable church music and acceptable church uniforms and acceptable church hairstyles are all based on the current acceptable church fads. it seems like everyone goes to the same church school so that every church has the same standardised everything.

that aside, here's the other theory. the churches are fine - i mean, they have problems, but everything has. it's highly plausible that i simply have some personal disapproval for the sameness, because it's boring, and i'm eccentric and that's my problem and not theirs. maybe the churches are all alike because they found a system that works and they've stuck with it. maybe the music is perfectly delightful and makes everyone want to worship the Lord, which is good, and i just have some distaste for it because i've heard it 100 times before.

so whether most churches are mindless drones, or i just have issues, what am i supposed to do?
i'd love to have a church community, but my needs grow increasingly abnormal.
sitting in a beige building with drone music is not conducive to worship, not to me anyway. and i never seem to learn anything.
my best church experience was on a boat on a lake. i find it difficult NOT to worship if i'm surrounded by God's creation.
and i want to learn about what life was like back then and what things mean and why they were written how they were written, not told repeatedly how much money i need to throw at the church. maybe if churches put less into their buildings they wouldn't have to worry about money so much.

or maybe i'm just mad.
other people seem to have fine, even inspirational church experiences. why don't i?
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby Danielle Abigail Maxwell » Wed May 19, 2010 7:47 am

I don't really have any "inspiration" from church. I just go because of the people. I hardly pay attention to the pastor... unless he'd cracking a few jokes now and then, THEN I might listen... Troy, Alex... yeah. So, I know how you feel. Why do I go to church if I'm not getting anything from it? Its all just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... at least to me.

Even though I would have to say your "typical" church there doesn't sound like mine... even though we are stuck in some sort of pattern... *shrug* At least I know when to keep my mouth shut in church and then whisper. lol. (Again... not paying any attention to the pastor)

In the basis of the word, church is supposed to stand for the people, the community. The crowd. Not the building or even the structure within worship. But does that mean its always easy to fit in? no.

I grew up a certain way and intended to stay that way because I believe its right. For someone like you, it sounds like your looking for something no one in any church can give. And sometimes that is best. Don't go looking for a church, go looking for God. If you can't find him in a church setting, then look for him elsewhere. The only thing I heard Jesus say that really sparked the reality of a church was "Where two or three are gathered, I will be." He wants us to worship Him. It even takes time to connect.

I could say most churches are mindless formulas, as you ask, but... each church, being that of a body of people, are individual. One Catholic church to the next is not the same. Different individuals. One Presbyterian church to the next is not the same. Different Individuals. One... Muslim mosque to the next is not the same. Different Individuals. Some seem to be dull and put you to sleep. Others seem to have no action what so ever. Others want your money it seems. And others do reach out and work and make things not so uniform. I know a church like that...

But maybe even more searching is involved. It never is a snap decision. Hope you do find what you are searching for. I don't believe every church is the same.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby Laura Ingalls » Wed May 19, 2010 8:13 am

I think you point out some legitimate problems with mainstream churches these days. Most people don't think anything about it, and just accept it..."Isn't this what church is supposed to be like?"
I would say NO. Most traditions that churches follow, they just do because...everyone does it this way! But if you go to the Bible and try to study it while putting away preconceived notions, the New Testament church was very different. :)
One, most congregations met in each others homes. The gatherings were a whole lot smaller than the mega churches of today - you *gasp* actually knew everyone in your church. Smaller sized groups were more conducive to actually carrying out the "one another" commandments in Scripture. You couldn't just blend in and not be involved with anyone. Church meant something. You went to build up fellow believers and actually come along side each other and keep others accountable.
Two, there were multiple elders of each church - qualified men from that local assembly. Nowadays, people go into the pastorate as a career, and churches search for a pastor to hire. And a whole lot of the time, as long as he can preach well in the pulpit, it doesn't really matter if he is qualified according to 1 Timothy. A lot of times, search committees don't even know his family to know if he keeps his own house in order.
Three, in the New Testament, one of the main reason believers gathered together was to eat together. They had agape feasts. They fellowshipped together over the shared meal - a very good way to get to know one another a lot deeper. Not just a shallow "How are you doing?" "Fine." types of conversations. :)
Four, the "teaching" these days seems so much more like fluff, as you put it. :) I mean, people start fidgeting and looking at their watches if a pastor goes over 15 minutes! Short, almost meaningless messages are the norm. In our church, the teaching time usually is around an hour, focuses on 1-3 verses, and I can take about 2 pages of notes. Recently we went to visit another church while out of town - I basically didn't take any notes! I couldn't figure out what the point of the sermon was - the preacher would read a verse, and then launch into an anecdote from his life that had nothing to do with what he just read. :-
Five, the entire church met together. Preschoolers didn't go off this way, preteens that way, youth group over there. The families worshipped together and heard the main teaching all at the same time. And that's a whole 'nother topic there that I could go into. ;)

Alright, let me get off my soapbox. ;) This has been an important issue in our family over the past few years, and we've talked about what church ought to be A LOT, as we've started a new church that meets in our home. So I had to post something. :P
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby Termite » Thu May 20, 2010 9:05 pm

That would be an interesting topic to start, Laura, cause I think it a good idea to split. 5 year olds can't understand the same as 20 year olds and that can lead to awkward situations depending on what is being talked about... And teens learn better with more hardcore teachings, I think. *shrugs* *cough* Moving off from that... :-

It seems like you just haven't found a church that suits you. :shrugs: There's nothing wrong with that. I would suggest you keep searching, meet with a small group, or have your own Sunday morning sermon by yourself in the middle of nowhere. It's nothing wrong with you; you just have different spiritual needs then other people.

To get back to the topic TITLE, that's difficult to discuss. As has been proven several times, my beliefs are different then most of what the ToOers believe. ;) Now, there's nothing wrong with that; however, I have a feeling most of the ToOers wouldn't like my church or feel as comfortable in it as I do. Then it comes around: I've gone to my aunt's church, I've gone to my cousin's church, I've been to my grandmother's Presbyterian church, and I didn't really like any of them. Especially the last one; it was too stiff for me. My aunt's is Presbyterian based, so... And my cousin's is basically Non-denominational, but there was still something different.

....I'm going to hope I'll get a point across, because I'm too tired to really understand it myself. =P For another example, Joel Olsteen. He's pretty much a motivational speaker, right? Well, that might be good for some people... But I want depth. I need depth in teachings to help me function. Does that mean he's wrong to teach as he does? No, it just means it isn't right for me.

Yes, some churches are probably to set into an ongoing routine as the one you mentioned above, which I would say is wrong. The difference being my church basically has a set routine for service, though Pastor Bill isn't afraid to break from that routine. "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape!" -My church's pre-school director. Are all routines wrong? No, not necessarily. It depends on how you work the routine. Are you so set in it that you can't even shift for a moment to welcome a newcomer? Or are you flexible, and willing to divert to wherever the Lord leads?
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby American Eagle » Fri May 21, 2010 1:37 pm

Laura, you perfectly described my thoughts. :yes:
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby Irwin » Fri May 21, 2010 6:39 pm

It's also important to point out, in my opinion, that a church's Sunday morning (or whenever) services, aren't what determines the church's influence and thought processes. You may some interesting observations, you’ve only focused on the services you’ve attended and made judgments from there, at least that’s what I perceive by reading your post.

The church's service is only really a 'pep talk'. It may be a semiautomatic well-oiled machine, but it gives hope and strength to those who really need it. From what I’ve seen, most of time this is especially true to visitors.

I'd guess that MOST churches do much more outside of Sunday mornings. Most Churches have ministries that enhance all parts the general Christian outlook; Bible study, community outreach, youth gatherings etc, which determine its character. These programs form the Church's heart show how well the Church is affecting its members and the rest of the world.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby King Butter Turtle » Fri May 21, 2010 9:23 pm

You make some very good points about modern churches. One thing that caught my eye, though, is that you seem to blame the customs rather than the people. There's nothing inherently wrong with doing those things, it's how they're done. For example, I've experienced greeting times that made me feel very welcome and others that felt awkward and stiff, almost as if they had taught the members what to say to visitors.

ique wrote:at some point in the sermon, tithing is mentioned, and an offering basket is passed around. now, i haven't studied this much on my own, but from what i understand, tithing was an old testament thing and tithes were in livestock, not monetary units. so it just seems like they're overmilking it with how many sermons are centred on tithing.


AMEN!!! =D> Finally some one agrees with me! I have studied the topic some on my own and you couldn't be more correct.

Ique wrote:that aside, here's the other theory. the churches are fine - i mean, they have problems, but everything has. it's highly plausible that i simply have some personal disapproval for the sameness, because it's boring, and i'm eccentric and that's my problem and not theirs. maybe the churches are all alike because they found a system that works and they've stuck with it. maybe the music is perfectly delightful and makes everyone want to worship the Lord, which is good, and i just have some distaste for it because i've heard it 100 times before.


While many churches may seem to follow this same mechanical pattern, there are unique ones, trust me. I don't know exactly your taste but, here's one as an example.

Ique wrote:maybe if churches put less into their buildings they wouldn't have to worry about money so much.


Absolutely! My church just added a new sanctuary and I can't imagine every giving to such a cause. There are people starving in the world; can't we worship God with folding chairs and a tent? The whole idea that God needs this fancy house with gold-plated microphones is terrible. First of all, it completely contradicts the life of Jesus. Also, why does God need a house when he lives inside of us? It's especially disgraceful when they build these fancy buildings and let them sit empty 6 days a week.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby ique » Sat May 22, 2010 2:41 am

i'm liking the replies i'm getting here. i was prepared to be scolded and/or find out that i'm mentally unstable. mwahaha.

king butter turtle, in addition to being delighted that we have copious agreements, that church you linked to is definitely more what i'm looking for. now i just need to find something like that here. D:

laura, what you described is also what i'm looking for. in fact we used to have church in our house, but after a few years our very small group disbanded after some of the people moved away and one of them died. :<

irwin: this is true. i guess i can't judge an entire church based on their sunday service, but what they do on that day really does say a lot about them in general. and while i certainly wouldn't ever believe everyone in the church is a certain way, i could know pretty well that i myself wouldn't fit in that community.

termite: as far as the ages topic goes, i'm kind of torn. it's true that younger kids are going to get bored because they haven't got a clue what's being talked about. but at the same time it seems more right to have the entire family together, learning the actual message. the stuff they teach to the little kids seems pretty useless, at least what i've seen. >_> and teenagers are old enough that they don't need to have stuff dumbed down and presented in a juvenile manner. but i just think that because my experiences with those two things hasn't been beneficial at all really. yet then again neither has the main service, harahrahrharh.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby snubs » Sat May 22, 2010 2:22 pm

I honestly don't care for the church I go to now... I mean, it's a good church. But the pastor doesn't go deep into topics, he also doesn't confront the topics I want to learn/hear about. I am not too fond of the music -and that goes for pretty much every church- I am just not into a "rock concert" when I attend church. I also don't like some of the songs they sing, I mean, like you said, ique, I just don't feel compelled to worship. The kind of songs I love, are the old hymns, those songs have so much more meaning to me... it's too bad that churches don't sing them enough.

Tithe is actually not something we have to give to the church. We should still take out a tenth for God though. Because nothing we own is ours, it ALL belongs to God. So, if we have chance to give back to Him, we should. What I'm getting at, is that we don't have to give just to the church. We can give to other godly ministries that we want to see progress. I mean, I actually rather give more of my tithe to ministries I like then my church.


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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby ique » Sat May 22, 2010 3:40 pm

snubs wrote:I honestly don't care for the church I go to now... I mean, it's a good church. But the pastor doesn't go deep into topics, he also doesn't confront the topics I want to learn/hear about. I am not too fond of the music -and that goes for pretty much every church- I am just not into a "rock concert" when I attend church. I also don't like some of the songs they sing, I mean, like you said, ique, I just don't feel compelled to worship. The kind of songs I love, are the old hymns, those songs have so much more meaning to me... it's too bad that churches don't sing them enough.

Tithe is actually not something we have to give to the church. We should still take out a tenth for God though. Because nothing we own is ours, it ALL belongs to God. So, if we have chance to give back to Him, we should. What I'm getting at, is that we don't have to give just to the church. We can give to other godly ministries that we want to see progress. I mean, I actually rather give more of my tithe to ministries I like then my church.


-snubs


if God owns everything, why do we say we are "taking out a tenth for him"? that's a contradiction in itself.
giving it to the church or to ministries isn't giving it to God because he already has it. it's just giving it to a church or ministry.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby Amethystic » Mon May 24, 2010 12:49 pm

Then how should we use our tithes, in your opinion? Or should we tithe at all?
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby American Eagle » Mon May 24, 2010 4:41 pm

Amethystic wrote:Then how should we use our tithes, in your opinion? Or should we tithe at all?

I'll give my two cents. There's nothing wrong with giving money to churches. Modern-day churches do much good, such as giving some of it to missionaries, preaching sermons, helping the community, etc. However, giving to a church is not Biblically-based. (If you can find such a verse, please show it to me.)

There is the idea of "Storehouse Tithing", but this is never for the church or Christians, per se. Read John R. Rice's commentary.

In short, tithing was a literal tax on the Israelites. Nowhere did God command Christians to adapt this tradition. However, all of our money ought to be used for God - because it is God's. Therefore we should use our money to support missionaries, help the poor, and perhaps even give to a church. All of this should be done as the Lord leads you.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby King Butter Turtle » Mon May 24, 2010 8:57 pm

American Eagle wrote:In short, tithing was a literal tax on the Israelites. Nowhere did God command Christians to adapt this tradition. However, all of our money ought to be used for God - because it is God's. Therefore we should use our money to support missionaries, help the poor, and perhaps even give to a church. All of this should be done as the Lord leads you.


Absolutely. Very well said. =D>
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby snubs » Tue May 25, 2010 12:23 pm

ique wrote:if God owns everything, why do we say we are "taking out a tenth for him"? that's a contradiction in itself.
giving it to the church or to ministries isn't giving it to God because he already has it. it's just giving it to a church or ministry.


I understand what you mean. I mean, you can't literally 'give' it to Him. But giving it to a church or ministry is using it for Him, which is like giving it to Him. Does that make sense?
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby ric » Wed May 26, 2010 5:14 pm

ique wrote:if God owns everything, why do we say we are "taking out a tenth for him"? that's a contradiction in itself.
giving it to the church or to ministries isn't giving it to God because he already has it. it's just giving it to a church or ministry.


God owns everything, but he has entrusted it to us. In order to prove that we are trustworthy, we must give some of what we 'own' back to him. I don't think it's so much the concept of helping the church as it is the concept of proving to God that we are worthy of him entrusting us worldly things.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby King Butter Turtle » Wed May 26, 2010 8:21 pm

ricrocflow wrote:
ique wrote:if God owns everything, why do we say we are "taking out a tenth for him"? that's a contradiction in itself.
giving it to the church or to ministries isn't giving it to God because he already has it. it's just giving it to a church or ministry.


God owns everything, but he has entrusted it to us. In order to prove that we are trustworthy, we must give some of what we 'own' back to him. I don't think it's so much the concept of helping the church as it is the concept of proving to God that we are worthy of him entrusting us worldly things.


Bogus! Sorry, I don't mean to be rude but, I very much disagree.

You just said that God owned everything and that we owned something in consecutive sentences. Isn't that inherently contradictory? If God owns everything, no one but him can own anything. You said it yourself, we're entrusted with resources; we're simply stewards of God's money. It's impossible to give some one their own money. (well, unless you're congress :wink:) We're supposed to spend his money as he (Jesus) would. Thus, we support our families with just what we need, give to the church, give to the orphans, the widows, etc. And, we spend his money in this manner because we're his followers and he commanded it. If you think we can/need to "prove" anything to God, you've got some messed up theology.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby snubs » Wed May 26, 2010 8:56 pm

King Butter Turtle wrote:You just said that God owned everything and that we owned something in consecutive sentences. Isn't that inherently contradictory? If God owns everything, no one but him can own anything. You said it yourself, we're entrusted with resources; we're simply stewards of God's money. It's impossible to give some one their own money. (well, unless you're congress :wink:) We're supposed to spend his money as he (Jesus) would. Thus, we support our families with just what we need, give to the church, give to the orphans, the widows, etc. And, we spend his money in this manner because we're his followers and he commanded it. If you think we can/need to "prove" anything to God, you've got some messed up theology.



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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby ric » Wed May 26, 2010 11:10 pm

I completely agree with you. I don't really see where the argument is but it doesn't matter because I agree with you.

Ok, I see that I used the wrong words, but I totally agree.
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby WootonB » Fri May 28, 2010 1:48 pm

i think another major part of church is to fellowship with other believers
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Re: Are most churches mindless formulas ?

Postby Amethystic » Fri May 28, 2010 2:33 pm

I have to disagree with what some of you are saying about tithes--my dad works in ministry, and I've lost track of the times he's dealt with people who were suffering financially because they weren't tithing--and in every one of those cases, the people had dramatic turnarounds once they started giving again. Tithing at least 10% is necessity (even if you aren't giving to a church specifically--it's good to be tithing to any ministries you participate in or benefit from). Yes, God technically does own everything, but the giving is more for our benefit than His. Besides, how much of "God's" money do we actually use on His will and ministry?
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Location: Somewhere between this world and the planet Xoltac.
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