OK, so don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of problems with the Church (racism, sexism, homophobia, heteronormativity, xenophobia, etc etc), but the greatest problem I see is that, in the desire to meet the most people, we end up with the most shallow form of worship we can achieve.
I was part of a small, but thriving, community of Christians, Jews and even a couple atheists for the greater part of two years, and on Thursday it was promptly pulled out from under us, those who were a part of the group because the new rector thought the resources for the program would be better served elsewhere. Mind you, he’s never been to a service, has never interacted with the members of the group in any meaningful way, and has no history with our worship space. We are…or I guess were…a community that embraced questions and discussion over dogma and chastisement–something you don’t see much in the Church anymore, and especially not in mainline denominations. It was a space where I felt comfortable to worship with my Christian husband as a Jewish woman, and was free to ask questions about worship styles, meaning of passages that differ between our two faiths, saw God in secular life and was able to reach out and connect with people from different walks of life than my own. This is no longer–or at least no longer at that church.
The new rector has decided that our resources and “musical leadership” would best be served on Saturday nights “where there is a critical mass of people.” My issue here is, we have a flourishing–not in number but in quality and depth–of discipleship, mentorship and in reaching new levels of our faith. He wants–and has–effectively thrown this aside in favor of allowing those who go to Saturday night’s worship to have a better musical selection. This is the problem with the church. We want to cater to those who have the greatest numbers, without seeing the greatest depth. While I’m sure Saturday night has an excellent service, it is still just a service–not a community, not a dinner to discuss the lectionary, not a time for discipleship, or a time for contemplation of the meaning of God in our lives, it is a service. We are taking away and destroying the very tenets of our faith in order to pacify those with greater numbers. The Church will be no longer if we continue to embrace a quantity over quality model.
It pains me to see this happen, but it happens every day. My community will live on in another place, hopefully someone’s home or a more like-minded parish, but I am still deeply troubled by how this has played out. How long are we going to allow our faith to go unquestioned and our doubts to be shushed because we are in polite company? How long ware we going to go without delving deep into the realm of Christian contemplation and prayer that you can only get by sharing a meal and discussing life’s questions? You don’t get these things in a service, you get them in a community–and until Christianity realizes that it isn’t a giant theatrical performance, but a community we will never be able to fully recognize what Christ wants for our lives.