Many years ago during the first years of our marriage, Denise and I were spiritual nomads looking for a church home. We waffled between the Catholic Church Denise knew in Puerto Rico, and I rebelled against the formalism of the United Methodist Church.
Our journey took us to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, the Catholic Marriage Encounter, and other churches. Nothing satisfied us
Swinging like a spiritual pendulum, we also tried an Über-liberal church where a woman in a black leotard danced to Frank Sinatra’s “I did it My Way”. (I will never forget that!)
What did satisfy us was a group Bible study that was a follow up fellowship of mostly Protestants after the Marriage Encounter.
One of the people at the Bible study was Norman, Mennonite pastor and who like us, had gone through Marriage Encounter. I wanted to take the trip to visit the church, but Denise did not.
Since the only experience that she had with Anabaptists was at farmer’s markets, she later confided to me that her reluctance to visit was fueled by the fear that the people would force her to wear a white bonnet such as the Amish wear.
We took a risk because I told her that if she did not like it, we did not have to come back. To her huge relief, none of the women wore bonnets. They seemed “normal folk”. We also met a couple, close to age. They gave us a tour of their church. In their basement, Denise innocently asked, “Is this where you hold the dances?”
Since I was raised Methodist, I knew that protestant churches do not have dances. Inwardly, I cringed, and waited for the offended, scolding and humiliating words “We don’t do that here”. They never came.
Denise asked the question because dancing is a cultural activity for families in Puerto Rico, so she was actually asking a question about familial social gatherings. The wife was a Spanish teacher so she understood the culture behind the question. She answered the question about social gatherings at the church, saying nothing about it being a taboo in Protestant churches. Could you do that?
The title of this blog comes from an after-church coffee fellowship, when discussing some things to change in the church. As a joke, the man sitting next to me stated. “We don’t do that here.” Everyone laughed. It was funny because we were discussing how to do somethings radically different from what we are used to doing for worship.
In our church, we had people upset because we got a free sound booth, and began projecting slides, videos and presentations during the sermon. We had people upset because we put a basket in the back of the sanctuary for tithes and offerings, eliminating the ushers taking the envelopes as a part of the service, but keep singing the Doxology. We had people upset because another pianist added her talent to worship and created a “Southern Gospel” sound from the worship team, and we people upset over the paint color that the congregation chose. It all boils down to that statement from my friend, jokingly stated, “We don’t do that here.”
It is our understanding that that phrase should describe a mausoleum, but surely not the Church of the Living God. That is because we believe that God has uniquely talented all of us, we all should uniquely worship God.
Traditions can be good, familiar, but traditions held long after their usefulness become a rut, and in some cases, an elongated rut can become a place for coffins, like a cemetery.
There are other “ruts” in some churches, such as white shirts with ties for the men, no pants and no make up for women, short hair for males. You get the gist.
This blog is for those who are experiencing the same sort of “spiritual nomad” feelings as did Denise and I once did. It is not fun to experience the tossing and turning by many different winds when you are attempting to find something real and authentic. I wrote about the struggles we had as a young married couple because I believe that the feelings about waffling, torn between extremes may also be happening to others who read this.
Take heart that if you ask God to guide you to a good church, He will
Alliance Community is a church where we honor the past traditions, but seek to make our church, our people and the messages contemporary and relevant, always pointing to Jesus Christ as the answer to all our needs. Alliance Community Church may be what you are looking for if you want to know what the Bible says about your situation.
Please leave your Amish bonnets at home when you do come. 😛