today we tried a new church in catalina. catalina! the people were VERY friendly, but not weird friendly. we were greeted by many people and engaged in conversation but not gawked at or made to feel awkward. everyone beamed at our children and made positive comments about family, which is also refreshing. we got there like a half hour early! yeah! it is 10 minutes away from our house! and besides, the service time was posted as 9:15 on the website but was actually at 9:30. the worship was lively. the ambiance was good. i missed most of the sermon because silas was shrieking at the poor nursery ladies. ...he is birthing a tooth, or two, and besides, it was his nap time and he had been too busy doing important baby work that morning to give any attention to nursing.
i wish...i wish it had gone just that one step further. i miss that rawness about california churches; that real, up front, hard-hitting, bible-digging, revolutionary rawness. that is what the soul needs. it needs spiritual reality. so, at first glance, the church seemed main stream, some of the books on the shelves i would not necessarily endorse, but OBVIOUSLY there is room for different tastes and differences of opinion. the most promising thing i saw up there, seriously, was randy alcorn's safely home. i really, really, really want to read it. it has been recommended by several people and the reason i am interested in that author is because he wrote a challenging expose booklet on the facts of birth control, including the little-known fact that birth control, besides preventing conception, also acts as an abortifacent if that function fails. nobody wants to know these things, they would rather go on doing the thing that everyone does, the thing that is comfortable for them and their plans. so i was actually surprised to see randy alcorn on that shelf alongside ecumenical rick warren and semi-liberal erickson.
a lively church in catalina is such a needed thing. catalina has been known for its drugs, drinking, and other moral sludge that goes along with all that. it is good to see people who had the courage not only to come and start a contemporary church in the heart of it, but to move out here and live in this dirty ramshackle ghost of a town as well.
they, too, operate on the "membership" system which is a little disappointing, but as i told thomas at lunch, most churches do. reality is actually the exception in soooooo many areas, and we should probably stop trying to find a reality here and just go somewhere where we can agree with the general doctrine and manner of "doing church." i loved how the people embraced us, the pastor and his wife spent a lot of time talking to us and listening. a girl i went to elementary school with us knew me right away by name...ah, small towns!
(but more on the "church membership" issue, as if we weren't already uncomfortable with it, tonight we read 2 samuel 24, when david takes a census and thereby shows his trust is in man's power rather than God's alone. vv. 1-3 completely struck me. the children's Bible says, when Joab was warning David, "you have no right to rejoice in their strength." so when the pastor today was comparing church membership to a football team where he was the coach and the coach looked out not to the fans, but to his team for help, it made sense at the time... but when i read the story mentioned above, i got a very eerie feeling that this is what church census is for as well. trusting in man's strength, not in God's alone?)
this. place. needs. a. revival. we are still praying for spirit fire. people need to know how to appropriate the power of the holy spirit for their lives and others! that is what the soul craves! power! it makes me sad to see churches that are too focused on being seeker-friendly or churches that have their membership so fossilized that everything takes on a musty tinge of insincere routine, the choir is a show for the pew sitters. help me, lord, i am so critical, and yet i have no skills to change any of it. all i have is knees. let me use them well and my tongue less. i praise God for showing us a good community that is near our home. the power of the Spirit can work there too! I love His ways.