Re: mainstream churches – it seems a good day to re-attend to this comment from bookaholic (last week’s Open Thread).
[CHECK OUT MAINSTREAM CHURCHES]
People looking for an alternative to churches that
- ignore Jesus’ teachings,
- get Caesar and God mixed up,
- don’t preach love,
might want to try something really, really radical: go to a mainstream Protestant church!
A great many United Methodist and Presbyterian USA churches resist the takeover of Christianity by the false religion of nationalism, and as a result they are targeted for takeover by the ultra right. They are also losing members to the more pop-culture-style atmosphere of the mega churches. They could use you in their pews or chairs right now.
At their best, mainstream churches provide
- thought-provoking, inspirational and helpful sermons;
- a liturgy that amplifies God’s presence rather than the band’s;
- lengthy Scripture readings (not just sound bites);
- really good adult classes that allow discussion and dialogue;
- a thorough (and positive!) Christian education for young children;
- and opportunities for service, spiritual development, and genuine belonging.
Denominational labels don’t mean as much as they used to, so you have to check out the individual congregation. They come in all sizes and several flavors. If you try one and don’t like it, don’t give up, try another one.
Most mainstream churches appreciate your volunteering to teach, or sweep floors, or whatever your gift is, and they’ll give you plenty of chances to join a prayer group, build a Habitat house or donate to tsunami relief. But they know that your relationship with God is *your* relationship, not theirs. They’re not in a tug of war over your soul, and they’re not the Jesus Thought Police. I think these guys are wonderful and deserve more support than they’re getting right now.
I know that is true. If some of the forms or traditions seem a bit odd, remember that Jesus did his best to work within all the forms and traditions of his day – with considerable success at times. Let me add to bookaholic’s remarks the next comment from that thread.
Excellent suggestion. Thank you. I’d add: some American Baptist churches (the denomination, not the location, the group Martin Luther King was ordained in); some Lutherans (try ELCA, not usually LCMS); some Episcopal parishes; some Catholic parishes
Anybody remember Michael and Stormie Omartian’s lively song from the 70’s, “I Want To Be In The Mainstream!”?
[Add UCC – United Church of Christ – to this.][ Let me recommend United Church of Christ congregations, which often have the word “Congregational” in their names. I’m a member of one of the mainstream churches here. It is pretty small, so does not fit all the functional descriptions above, but has some true emotional – spiritual, and organizational, health going on. [ A college student told me last week that they really like the way we handle the Scripture – not ultra cynical nor a hermeneutic of doubt (my terms) but respect for the Bible’s complicated history and the deep spiritual realities treated in it. And we will soon be welcoming a new pastor, a young woman with husband and two young children. Of course for some of you, attending church in the center of the USA would be a bit of a commute.