Compartmentalized church

February 21, 2007

church / spirituality

I have several concerns about the church. Many of them, I see in myself. Others, I see as human nature, regardless of whether or not I see them in myself. And some, I feel are very serious things to which I should attempt to say something. I attempt to give equal time to ranting about all of these.

I can’t speak to those outside the United States, but certainly here we like to compartmentalize our church experiences from the rest of our lives. Such as, I can’t do … because I’m in church.

Now the obvious issue that isn’t occurring to us when we say this is that if God can see us doing something in church, he can see it outside church, too. So, the point here is that we’re just not thinking. I don’t think anyone really thinks they’re fooling God, but they do think they’re fooling everyone else. Again, we’re not thinking about what is being verbalized.

But I think there’s more to it than just not thinking. There’s a deep trouble that we in the American church have, and maybe in the Western church as a whole, and this is a manifestation of it. I think this is a trouble that will lessen in general culture as culture emerges from its current state, and will lessen in the church as well, but slower. Like always, Europe and Canada will be years ahead of the United States.

I was fortunate to be able to attend a house church for the last few months I was in Florida, and this issue did not exist there. Immediately upon arriving in Atlanta, where we’re working in a much more traditional church, there it is again. My suspicion is that this is a common tendency, and that the more traditional, and structured, and building-oriented a church is, the easier it is to fall into the trap of putting God into church, the rest of our lives outside of church, and keeping the two from meeting.