For most of my early life, I had a major problem with “Organised Religion“, but then I found myself working at a residential centre that was Anglican-based (God has a sense of humour I tell you!) It opened my eyes to things that I had prejudices about, like actually taking communion with the wafers, Some churches weren’t as boring as I thought they might be!
I was not surprised however, when talking to a few young Anglicans, to hear insincere reasons for “confirmation” i.e “I was hungry, I wanted to eat the bread”, “just the next thing to do…”. I visited a local Baptist church, who were really welcoming, (an attribute of most Baptist churches it seems) and I felt happy especially as their theology was similar to mine.
A little background perhaps- I spent most of my childhood growing up in a church that started as a “house church” i.e met in a home with a few people and grew from there. So my ideal of how church services should be was based on that one. My ideal is to have lively worship songs and then opportunity to “hear from god” and pray for one another, hopefully the talk/sermon will have hit a nerve or challenged some of the congregation into going for prayer and asking for healing/God’s help/God’s forgiveness.
So I struggle with services that are too structured, and my attitude was that Christianity should be a “disorganised faith”. If you put too much structure in place for a church service when do you give space for the holy spirit to work?
Now, what confuses me is that when we say the “sinners prayer” and become a true follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills us and we are “temples”, yet a vast number of the churches in the developed world appear lifeless. The same spirit which came upon the disciples at Pentecost and made them able to talk in languages they didn’t even know, lives within us! So what on earth is going in our churches today?
One church I have been to, appeared to only ask the Holy Spirit to come when people were being baptised, he wasn’t welcome at any other time, or so it seemed. The only place for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to be used was in the church members meeting (where you debate church policies and practicalities about the building?) This in contrast to other churches that I have been to where every single week you see people being healed, people speaking in tongues (yes I know it freaks some people out, and I know if it is used to prophesy, there should be a translation!) They even stop the preacher from preaching a whole sermon because he has said enough and the holy spirit is moving already (Shock, horror!!)
So what I want to know is
1. If you do not give the Holy Spirit the space to work, how can you then expect him to inspire people to want prayer afterwards, he is in us, yet if we deny his presence then he cannot move within the congregation, can he?
2. We say Christianity is a faith not a religion, the only thing Jesus wanted us to do with any frequency as a group of people was to break bread and drink wine to remember him. So what is with the oranges in foil with cocktail sticks (christingle), lighting candles for the deceased, and singing carols about winter weather (when Jesus was born most likely in the Middle East in September ?)
Your opinions and comments please?