What is the church? How is it relevant to society? How is it relevant to me?
These questions have been spinning around my head for so long now it seems. In the past, I have been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church and I have been heavily involved at various times with that community. More recently my attendance there has waned to the point of not having gone in several months now and I have been asking myself questions of who my community is and how the church plays a role in that definition.
As a part of experiencing different modes of worship, I decided to attend a church service, but not one of my normal church. A friend of mine invited me to attend the Imago Dei church down on 15th and Ankeny. It was definitely an experience. One that in many was resonated with my past experiences at my old churches. To this, I was greatly disappointed. It was the same old, same old as far as I was concerned. The only thing that I felt comfort in was that I was able to be lost within the congregation. The first time I went, it was with the friend who invited me. The second time I went alone. It was a blessing to "blend in with the pew" and not be forced to be happy, or excited to be there. I was there to worship. Worship is something done without words. I had no words those days. What I had was anger, frustration and a desire to not be a part of this "pack of conformed people."
What is church? Church represents a community of people that gather together to praise God and presence with each other. If that is what church is, then why do I need to go to a 'bring and mortar' place to experience this praise? So much of our spirituality is a personal thing. Beyond that, what is the purpose of a church? It is a place of belonging. And it is a place of belonging where a person much act and dress and believe in a way that conforms to the ideals of that institution. If you do not act, dress or believe in that fashion, go somewhere else. Every church will implore you that they accept all people... and they will do their darndest to convert you at the same time. They are not O.K. with you being O.K. There is a need for the church to make you feel as though you belong to it.