In defense of Church Services

St Martin's Church, Lowthorpe, East Riding of ...
Image via Wikipedia

I like church services.

There.  I said it.

That’s not a very fashionable sentiment.  There’s a lot of good reasons for that.  And a lot of not good reasons for it, too.  But I don’t much care.  I like church services.

I’m not saying that I personally like all churches services.  And even at my amazing home church, some weeks are better than others.  Last Sunday was the first service I’d been able to attend in a few weeks.  And I felt so refreshed after.

There’s a way in which worship is the only action that can really capture how good and how huge God is.  It’s so freeing to recognize that I’m not the center of the universe, it’s so awesome to try and place God at the center of the universe, as fallen and pathetic as my attempts at this might be.

Reflecting on how good all this was, it got me a little indignant.

People have so thoroughly rebelled against the idea that singing is the only form of worship, that they’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.  It feels a bit like if you worship in any way other than by serving, giving and sacrificing then you’re somehow not spiritual.

The “Old” Testament is full of people celebrating God’s goodness through song.  Jesus’ followers sang hymns.  These people did more than just sing.  It’s appropriate to criticize somebody who sings for an hour on Sunday and then acts like a jerk for the rest of the week.  But the problem isn’t the singing.  The problem is that they act like a jerk.

And I get it that the church isn’t a building, or a program, or a service.  But this doesn’t mean that the church should engage in church services as one of the things it does together.

It’s valuable to recognize that things take different shapes at different periods in history.  But it’d be such a loss if we left behind the oppurtunity to gather in groups and sing out to our creator.


Published by


The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s