Church as a Factory

I think for most kids going to church is an excruciating experience.  Sure, Sunday School might be fun (especially if you’re a young child), but sitting through a service is hard.  When I was a kid, I used church time to daydream and clock-watch.  I rarely listened to the sermon.  Attending church was something that was expected of me.  When I was a teen I was allowed to choose the church I attended,  so I went to my sisters’ church and not my parents’.  I had friends there but they usually just stopped in for Sunday school.  I longed to hop in my car and join them at the nearest restaurant, but if I did that I would not be upholding my Sunday obligations.  So I would say goodbye to my friends and envision them driving off with the music cranked and the cigarettes lit (it was the 90’s in NC).

Religious organizations have their structure.  That structure includes a certain number of services per week that its members are expected to attend.  A lot of times the “goodness” of people is measured by how many of those services they are present for.  I remember being very aware that the best members of our church attended on Sunday morning, Sunday night AND Wednesday night.  You were the cream of the crop if you did this.  We lived too far away from the church to do that so we settled for once a week on Sunday morning.  BUT it was every Sunday and we always attended both Sunday School and preaching.

It bugged me that it was such a part of the regimen.  Sometimes, OK most of the time, I just wanted to stay home.  I wanted to feel comfortable and happy and church didn’t make me feel that way.

Now that I have embraced different ideas about God and what a spiritual life looks like, I find that most of the time I WANT to go to church.  My church is not typical.  It is still a church though and it relies on people becoming members and donating their money and time.  One thing I find though is that it is about as close as you can get to church as a factory.

My friend Rob and I had this conversation one day and he made this great analogy.  Church should be like a factory.  You go in and they give you all the tools you need to live a spiritual life.  They teach you methods for prayer and meditation and offer you resources to study.  They build up your confidence and remind you that you are special and unique with talents and gifts to offer the world.  THEN they should say…now go live and be happy!  This process may take longer for different people.  One person may need to attend church weekly and hear these messages over and over for 20 years before it breaks through to their being.  Someone else may only need to hear it for 6 months.  But there should be a point where you can “attend church” within yourself daily or weekly without needing to sit amongst a congregation.  And the great thing is, that if you backslide and feel you’ve forgotten how to use your tools, you can always go back for a refresher.

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4 thoughts on “Church as a Factory

  1. Megan February 26, 2010 / 1:02 pm

    Hi,

    This is my first time here, but I just had to say I totally agree with your friend Rob. 100% I’m writing a paper on spiritual practices (what they are, why we need them, etc…) and while I was reading one of my books I had a very similar epiphany.

    I come from a Christian background – church on Sunday and Wednesday too – and it occurred to me that this is why things aren’t different in churches (the stats for abuse, addiction, etc. are the same in churches as out of them) – because people aren’t being given the Tools that Rob is talking about… If we were all trained in the tools how would things change?

    Now that’s an exciting topic to explore! Off to read some more of your posts.

    Yours,
    Megan

    • lesleehorner February 26, 2010 / 1:24 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Megan!

  2. Rob February 26, 2010 / 2:06 pm

    There’s a couple of additional comments I’d like to make about what both Leslee and Megan said. While church can (and hopefully does) provide the tools we can use to evolve spiritually, the necessity still exists for the individual to actually USE them for the tools to be effective. I’ve taught meditation for many years and have learned (sometimes the hard way) that until someone is ready and willing, they will not benefit (or even be interested in) new knowledge or practices.

    But when they ARE ready, and start to look around for some new way to grow spiritually, they will be led to exactly the type of spiritual practice that suits their present state of consciousness. Spirit is very good at that, I have noticed. And since everyone is on a different level of consciousness, it’s a good thing that there are lots of different religions, churches, spiritual practices, and so on, so that all the different needs are provided for. For example, I’ve given a certain ‘spiritual’ book to several people whom I thought would enjoy it, and, while most did, a couple of people just could NOT relate to it.

    And one last comment about attending church. As I’m sure Leslee would agree, there’s an element of ‘fellowship’ that can be very enjoyable (and supportive), so that while you may have gotten the ‘tools’ you need to have church ‘at home,’ sometimes just ‘being there’ can be worth the trip.

    • lesleehorner February 26, 2010 / 2:17 pm

      Glad you chimed in on this one Rob, especially since it was about a conversation we had. (You did say all that didn’t you? Hope I wasn’t misquoting.) And the fellowship aspect is exactly why I wanted to leave after Sunday School with the rest of my friends back in high school :)!

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