Thursday, 19 August 2010

Church - "French" style

Went to a church in France and upon finding it was a little disappointed to find it was a service in English for a completely ex-pat congregation. Apparently we’d shown up for their monthly most formal service. Another shame.

Frankly it was probably a good experience for me to be bored in a church, it doesn’t happen much. When lots of the service is sung and you aren’t in on the tune they always use then it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. At no point in the service was any mention of the world or the country outside made. We could have been in England had the weather outside not been a giveaway. It did make me wonder how many of our churches are happy to go through the motions and play church while the rest of the world goes about its business unaware and unaffected.

The sermon was ten minutes long and should have been shorter. The preacher contradicted one of the readings at one point during the sermon – though I don’t think they even realised – and missed a great opportunity to expound on a wonderful passage of the gospel. Instead we just got some rambling reflections on what faith is. I didn’t need their opinions, I needed to know what Jesus said. Sadly, I didn’t get that.

I feel mean being this blunt – they were lovely people and this being a French congregation the coffee was fantastic. But it was a timely experience for me. I had read Bill Hybel’s book “Holy Discontent” earlier in the holiday. Basically he advises discovering what winds you up to the point of you having to do something about it. He reckons we all have something that we are driven to do something about in this world and I think mine is about wanting church to be interesting and accessible and creative and showing that the gospel is relevant to everyone today. I appreciate that people like different styles and approaches but in church here I felt alienated and it felt that someone had done their best to hide God. And I think the vast majority of my friends would feel the same way.

Which is why I do what I do.

Rant over. Sorry.

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