What If You Couldn’t?

Suppose – just suppose – for a few moments that you couldn’t worship in a gathering of Christ-followers anymore.

I don’t know why. War. Disaster. Takeover by a totalitarian foreign government. Imprisonment in an iron lung. Eighty-eight-dollar-a-gallon gasoline. Doesn’t matter. You can’t worship while gathered with Christians anymore. Just suppose.

What would that mean to you?

Would the quality of the singing or the sermons or the temperature of the worship center still be important to you? How about the paltry class offerings or the cold decor of the church or the ministry staff’s salary? Would the style of the worship or the hat of the lady who always sat in front of you or the fidgety teens in the back still ruffle your feathers?

Could the length and redundancy of the prayers still tick you off? Or the guy who parked across two spaces? Or the little children running among the old folks?

Would the teacher who had always hinted around at what you consider heresy and false doctrine still stoke your smoldering wrath?

How about the deacon who kept pestering you to teach, or help with benevolence, or take communion to shut-ins?

Or all the fundraising drive and charity event flyers that people kept tacking to the crowded bulletin board?

Or the broken step at the back of the church building that nobody ever bothered to fix?

Or the babies crying that parents were slow to remove to the nursery?

Would you be glad to be rid of the songs you don’t like?

Would you miss the cranky old people?

Would you miss Jesus?

Would you still worship alone, your way, the way you like, the way that speaks to you, the way God must like because He made you in His image and that’s the way you like it?

Would you like it better alone? Would you bother to worship at all?

What if you couldn’t?

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11 thoughts on “What If You Couldn’t?

  1. I wouldn’t miss the teacher of heresy or the fellow parking across two spots, especially if it were the same person.😉No really, I got it. Good post, as usual.

  2. Sounds like some have issues, I don’t have those particular ones, and when I do I will stay home and worship, I an ambidextrous, I can bat either way. and I can bat lead off or clean up, but I am not very productive when mad, or when people are mad at me.(I can play either side of the plate, and with any size audience,as long as there is one) If I were denied the privilege to worship with a congregation, I would not miss any of the issues you mentioned, because I don’t have them.

  3. <>“Would the quality of the singing or the sermons…still be important to you?”<>This, coming from the guy who rates the sermons each week on a scale of 1 to 5??? (And I am told it’s never been seen on a 5!)Lemme see how many of these would apply to me…I have no problem w/the singing or sermons or style of worship…LOVE the Sunday morning class offering for the Singles, along w/our amazing teacher, and am sad he is almost done…the decor could be better, but down in the singles room there is a very inviting atmosphere w/all the furniture…no problem w/the staff’s salary b/c I know how hard they work…there’s no hat lady in front of me…no teens behind me.I will admit that the parking lot guy would get on my nerves…only because we’ve got enough parking problems already w/out someone taking up TWO spaces!But seriously…when you ask that very first question…when you ask us to imagine that we could no longer worship together…That’s like telling me to imagine I can no longer see my family. Because these people are my family. As a single person who lives 2 hrs away from my biological family, some of the people I worship with are more a part of my every-day than my family is. So really, in the grand scheme of things, who cares if the building is always FRIGID (i have a blanket in the singles room!) or if there’s no powerpoint presentation or if there are loud babies crying??? Thanks for making us think about what’s really important. Excellent post, Keith!

  4. Just for the record: Lacey’s referring to a “Sermon Rating Chart” on the bulletin board above my former desk in the church office (and next to our preaching minister’s office, so he can see it). I inherited it from one of my predecessors, James Benge, who had placed it there to needle the preacher. I never touched it the whole time my desk was there. Other folks did, I and I often got credit/blame for it, but I could always truthfully claim that I had never messed with it. (Of course, I never took it down, either ….)Now I’m in a different spot in the office, and Deb has inherited the “chuckometer.” I don’t think she has ever touched it, either!The truth is, I didn’t have to use overheard conversations in the church office or take a poll to get source material for this post. So where do you think the items came from?I wish I could truthfully claim that I don’t have any of these issues, laymond. Mine may be a little different from some I’ve stated, but I still battle them. I’ve come to “maturity” in a consumer-driven environment, and it’s like reprogramming my DNA to not remain a product of it.

  5. Actually, war did prevent me from “going to worship” as we would leave on our missions at 1800 hours (6 pm) which was the time chapel services started. And yes, I did miss worship. I don’t get upset with worship much, esp. since I don’t hear mortars or rockets going off in the background. I guess have the minister stop his sermon and ask “is that inbound or outbound?” and the congregation replies- “outbound preacher!” and we move on. It is time to stop the “worship wars” and as the kids in our youth group love to sing “get right church and come home!”

  6. It took a while, but hopefully I am finally to the place where everything doesn’t have to go my way for me to be content.It would be terrible not to be able to meet with the brothers and sisters to worship! I must admit there are congregations out there that are as appealing as a funeral parlor. I would likely do some windshield time if need be to avoid them and worship elsewhere.His peace,Royce

  7. Wow, anonymous-that puts things in perspective-thanks for sharing!I admit it is hard to not be consumer-driven these days even when we complain about it, and when we are having so many conversations about what the church really is or should be…and I have been through a time where skipping church was not a huge deal…but at the same time I hungered deeply for that community…so, I would have to say it would be very difficult. I would miss it greatly, especially the relationships and time worshiping God together, or being able to be with the youth or college-age kids.I know we too often make non-issues into issues, but we are lucky here to be able to gather together freely like we do. I wonder sometimes what it would be like if it really wasn’t a freedom to be able to gather like we can here in America-how different church would look-or at least I hope it would.Great thoughts-very thought provoking. Thanks!

  8. Off subject:Keith, I can’t believe you meant what you said on another’s blog. A post called “conditional salvation”. You said “Yes! Yes! I think we’re saying the same thing..Question; were you saying the same thing, after the Blogger answered another’s question?Question;“Am I on the same page with your discussion if I speak of an initial need for a person to decide to believe and love Jesus.” Blogger’s answer. “It seems that even those elementary, though necessary things are the result of God’s initiative. (Acts 11:18, Romans 10:17, John 1:13)” This completely makes the Gospel irrelevant, this completely makes Jesus’ mission irrelevant, this completely makes man’s freewill irrelevant (given by God). And it makes 17 verses in Revelations, completely irrelevant, one of which is. “Rv:20:13: And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”Keith I would have placed this on the Blogger’s blog, but he e-mailed me and said he would never allow another of my comments to air on his “righteous writings” again. As you know he controls what others say there. And if he can’t answer a question, he just ignores it.

  9. Keith,Wonderful thoughts brother. I think it is sad that most church goers don’t understand and miss Jesus completely. Their focus is on all these questions and statements. Would we miss Jesus? Wow….Yes! I believe that should be key and focus for us as believers today.

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