Honestly Speaking

If you were being completely honest, without fear of repercussions, what is one thing you would change about the church you attend (or attended). If it is too hard to pick just one thing, you can share two or three.

30 thoughts on “Honestly Speaking”

  1. Problem is, changing one thing—or even two or three things—won’t be enough. It’s the paradigm that’s faulty. There’s a fundamental flaw in the context of church that requires more than incremental shifts. It’s certainly not realistic, and I don’t think it’s possible on a large scale, but a completely divergent archetype of church is the only complete solution. In the meantime, you can find me in Lancaster, PA, blazing up an arm-sized spliff with Brother Jedediah.

  2. One thing I’d change is to make sure the requirements for serving in a particular department are agreed upon by all people on staff at the church. I had the acting senior pastor tell me that church attendance was not mandatory to serve in the youth department as a volunteer. I had the youth pastor himself tell me it was. I’d also change the fact that when you go out to find a new person for the senior pastor position, because the one you had retired, that you first look within the ranks of the church first and not spend two years and over a million dollars of the church budget to come back with nothing more than “we have our eyes on a few candidates.” All that time and money and this is the best you’ve got? But I guess at that church a new senior pastor is much like the Yeti. Rumoured to exist, but no one’s ever actually seen it.

  3. At the risk of sounding piously self-depreciating … the thing that would make our church better if it changed is me! If I went in a better frame of mind most weeks, if I went expecting to serve and to give, if I went prepared to worship, if I went simply to partake rather than appraise the service, if I went expecting to be used by God, if I actually spent more time in prayer & worshipping in solitude during the week. But I’m just to lazy, cynical, weary & jaded.Oh, and the awful carpet would have to go too.

  4. I would not have Sunday School hour for the kids. (And not just because I’m feeling a bit overworked running the program.) I would instead empower and expect parents to teach their own children daily.

  5. Funny that all you are talkin Amish. We are seriously considering becoming Mennonites because of their social justice and peace stance. Not ready to give up my truck for a horse and buggy yet. Though if gas prices keep going up, maybe soon

  6. What would I want my former church to do? Admit we just don’t know the answers and that the Bible doesn’t speak authortatively on many things, especially science.

  7. The first thing I’d change would be to sell our building. We purchased the storefront we used to rent, and I’ve hated some of the things that have come out of that. I hate being concerned about offerings covering the mortgage. I hate so much time and energy and money going into a building.It makes me want to be part of a house church really badly… to be without that kind of overhead and focusing on people. Giving to people.

  8. I know that there are a large number of churches across the board that have been using the “small group” or “life group” model in an attempt at recapturing that intimacy and no-frills type of fellowship for a while now. I think this is a great ‘workaround’, however I still have not completely written off the potential upside to corporate biblical worship on a larger scale.Dorsey, I’m not sure if I agree that such radical change is what the church needs. I believe much of the ‘framework’ isn’t that far off, it’s our hearts and minds that are off track. The facility or organizational structure should never determin the direction of the church. If we are truely aligned with God, all that other stuff will fall in place (or away). Just as many churches are trying to ‘improve’ the christian experience through human intervention, I feel that many of the SCP ‘solutions’ or ‘suggestions’ are also motivated by logic or reason…as opposed to Christ, the intended head of the church.

  9. ninja – it’s funny you should mention the Amish. My wife and I spent some time with an Amish community in Kansas a few years back. And what I thought would be an enlightning experience about this mysterious people, just plunged me into deeper befuddlement. It turns out, that they change/bend their rules depending on who’s in charge of their church/community at the time. One guy might be ultra-conservative, so there’s absolutely no technology Period. However, the next guy will then say…”well, you can drive, but only to and from work. And you can have a tractor, but no air in your tires (rubber only).” I also saw what looked like a dog house a few yards next to one of their homes. Turns out, it was for their phone. So they weren’t allowed to have one in their house, but outside was fine….??!!Plus, let’s not forget this particual community of a couple of hundred or so, lost an average of one teenager a year during their “sowing of wild oats” period. And when I mean lost, I mean dead.When I aksed them point blank who or what they believed in, they were as unsure and confused as your average Saddlebackian…The best answer I ever got (and I’m not making this up), was from one of the ‘elders’ who said, “That’s just the way we’ve always done things.” And don’t get me started on their church services… I’m not trying to knock these people, because I’m sure their are a great many things we can learn from them, but suffice it to say, that loosing the frills doesn’t automatically fix everything.

  10. Time to “go Amish.” :pIn my opinion, they’re about the only Christian community that seems to still have credibility with the rest of the world.And, they make awesome furniture.

  11. I can’t complain about anything. I <>was<> in a church that had some major problems. I could have ranted for pages.But now I can’t. I am part of a wonderful missional community.They have sold their building and meet in a school hall. They don’t stress about money. In fact, the pastor often forgets to take up the offering.They don’t want people to make them their church home unless God wants them there. The pastor asked us several times “Are you sure???” when we began attending there.The children are always included as part of the church family. They do their own program in the same room as the rest of us. It’s not as distracting as you might think. There are as many children in our church as adults, and we manage with no problems.The pastor (and his wife, and everybody else in the community) want the best for us. They support us in everything we do outside the church walls, and expect from us that our missional activities come above attending church when necessary.Overseas missionaries that they support are <>really<> supported. No set and forget. They make an extra effort to keep connected with them, they pray with them, rejoice with them.The pastor often advertises things that other churches are doing, and encourages us to attend. In fact, they often abandon the service to do a field trip to another church who is doing something special they want us to see.In services, we sometimes sing. We sometimes don’t. We sometimes pray, we sometimes discuss, we sometimes role-play. Occasionally we will play a game or some other such activitiy, and we often eat meals together.Everybody has a chance to participate. We are encouraged to question, and to share what God has given to us.So there you go. No complaints. Not one. I’m a very happy camper.

  12. <>“Dorsey, I’m not sure if I agree that such radical change is what the church needs. I believe much of the ‘framework’ isn’t that far off, it’s our hearts and minds that are off track.”<>Um, hearts and minds being off track is pretty much exactly the definition of a faulty paradigm. And truthfully, framework is irrelevant. I could probably live with a great many of the things we do in evangelical churches if the mental context was more realistic. When I used to try to have these kinds of conversations with my pastor/father-in-law, he would always ask me, “so what is it that I should DO?” My response was always, “It’s not so much that you have to DO different things, it’s that you have to BE a different guy. And that’s the problem.”Same with church. Everyone’s trying to have a revolution by “doing” radical “new” (see Eccl.) things, but expecting the “doing” to usher in the “being.”. What people don’t want to understand is that transformation is what affects the tone and the mindset of the “doing.” That’s what’s different. The church “agenda” is what prevents people from being transformed and truly freed to BE different. As it stands, being free is all well and good, as long as you don’t make other people uncomfortable. I have lots more to say about this. I should start a blog.I wish I lived in Canada. I’d go and be a part of the community that< HREF="http://nakedpastor.com/" REL="nofollow">nakedpastor<> is involved with. Those guys seem to have something approacing the right idea. Their lack of pretense is what strikes me.

  13. Stop having “church services” in one central location (read: the church building) and start having the congregation meet in peoples’ homes…and just let those who are there share what’s going on with them. Maybe there’ll be music. Maybe there’ll be a time of prayer. Just let whatever happens happen in a more organic fashion.

  14. Lowed is dead on right about the Amish and their “ambivilance” with regard to technology. I knew a friend who lived by some Amish that wouldn’t own a tractor, but they’d be the first to borrow yours.

  15. I would have sodl the building and everything in it, met in homes and not have had a paid pastor on staff. All the money collected could then have to the needy.

  16. I would change how busy I get trying to ‘make it right’ for everyone there. As the Director of Technical Production (Lowendaction recognizes collective SCP moan) I rarely have the opportunity to share in the worship that I contribute to. I realize that what I do is probably more important to me (and those who helped ‘design’ the service) than those who attend and participate. But I also know that the experiences/encounters of our church family are very real and meaningful to them…Do we really need all that ‘extra stuff’ to worship? Probably not… but then, do we need funny little jokes or whitty anecdotes to make a sermon ‘good’? Why don’t we just stick to the hymns? Why do we watch TV in color…in HD?I am torn between stripping all of that away, but also trying to reach a culture that is infused by our digi-multimedia-driven surroundings.

  17. Guess what, every church is faulty, because, unfortunately, the church is full of people. So, I would get rid of the people. All of them. Except, then there would be no church, since the church really is just people. I don’t care what church you leave to start up whatever other church, or whether you join the amish, or a small house church. If your house church is really good, guess what will happen? More people will come, and then you won’t fit in a house any more, and shame on you if you don’t let anyone else in, because then you aren’t a church, you are just a private club, but if you let more people in, you won;t have what you have now, and you;ll have to get bigger, and look for a school or something, and then you;ll have to build, because you are doing such a good job of being the church that everyone wants to be there, and then the more people are there, the more people you will have who have different opinions, and who find things wrong, and who go along for a free ride, and who do all the things you want to leave the church for, since now you need a staff, and have a budget, and aren’t magically just able to meet, and sing songs or share stories and support each other, and so you leave the church because it is wrong, etc, etc. The church is God’s idea, and I marvel that he decided to use me and you, even though we are screwed up, and decided to use the church, even though it is screwed up because you and I are in it, and calls us his bride. Right the wrongs you see as much as possible, and work on your own heart. The paradigm shift that has to happen in the church is to change me (and by saying me, I mean you too, except that I can only change me, you have to worry about yourself). If we do that, the church will be everything it needs to be.

  18. I’d require the pastor to be bi-vocational.I’d teach people to love others outside of the church – with no “secret” motives. Building relationships/loving people just so you can “lead them to Jesus” is wrong.I’d also invite Dorsey’s friend, Brother Jedediah to come be our youth pastor.

  19. Stop “doing” church. Either sell the building or use it for purposes other than to hold a service. Use it to help people, to feed people, to serve people. Meet in houses, keep it small and simple. Stop focusing so much on religion stuff and start getting out into the community.That’s just a start.

  20. I would agree with Dorsey and societyvs that it is the paradigm shift that is needed. One from attractional church models with a CEO/Board of Directors/Plebian church-goer structure to a flatter leadership structure where the object is to be more “missional” (for lack of a better term) where people spend more time reaching out to their neighbors than going to church functions .And I think I meet with a body of believers that has that paradigm.So the only thing I would change is the “feel” of our worship time and I’d kick the kids out (at least once in a while) of the worship time too. The kids have their own Sunday school during the time there is teaching/sharing but I enjoy collective worship times (I’m talking music here) and long for our body to “improve” on that (kids can be distracting)…or…to be more honest, just make it more my style.So since I have no real substanitive problem with my ‘church’…I’ll shut up and post this comment simply because I don’t want to believe the few minutes I spent typing were for naught…

  21. I would drop the idea the church has to be run like a business – then take all the money we give (in tithes) to building programs for the ‘poor’ – people that could truly use our compassion. I would also drop the way church is run like a classroom – change the whole environment to one where we all talk and listen to each other (and work with one another on deep issues).

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