Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Monday, March 06, 2006

Church Shopping Revisited

I did trundle myself off to a contemporary worship service yesterday. Their church band played, the ministers were dressed informally, and there was a lot of applause. It was clear that the announcements, sermon, and Communion service (first Sunday of the month...how quickly we forget!) were all the same as the traditional service.

It's a big, corporate-style church, and what makes it feel welcoming to newcomers...to everybody...is the pastor, who welcomes everyone at the beginning of the service with such evident joy and caring that it makes up for the fact that there are no name tags, yellow cups, invitations to coffee hour, instructions for how to join...all the stuff we think we have to do week after week to make people feel welcome. Exactly what a person would do who wanted to affiliate with that congregation, I'm not sure, but it's a growing, thriving church, so they are obviously doing a lot right, and I wonder about the power of that kind of heart-felt greeting. It must feel better than the same old announcements read week after week.

I don't like applause any better in someone else's church than I like it in mine. And I noticed that they were having the same difficulty making space for their band that we do. They're about to build a "band loft" to go with their Choir loft and dedicated organ space. We need to do that, too.

And once again, I was reminded of the spirit of adventure/raw courage it takes to go church shopping, and I'm appreciative of every person who has found their way to First Unitarian. Church Shopping is Hard Work!

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