Before going on with Earl’s questions, I want to explain that I now have more of an appreciation for various expressions of church than I have ever had.
My church experience began with a conservative protestant background and later included a broad spectrum of the charismatic movement. It wasn’t until after leaving our last church that I realized how much elitism had crept into my beliefs. It was eye-opening to see and repent of that and to begin to appreciate God’s work in many different churches.
I grew up learning to play piano from a hymnbook. Given a few chords, the words to many hymns suddenly flood back to my memory. There are many hymns that I still consider meaningful worship, such as “How Great Thou Art?” and “It is Well with My Soul.”
I also learned some of the earliest praise choruses from the 70’s and 80’s. Remember “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love” and “It Only Takes a Spark”? I had one of the first Living translations of the New Testament with a cover that said “The Greatest of These is Love.”
During my charismatic days, we often sang “Shout to the Lord” for over half an hour. I’ve been in services where the crowd worshipped in a frenzy to “Days of Elijah.” I’ve been in warfare worship for hours until we “broke through” and also laid on the floor for hours “soaking” to Vineyard tunes.
When I visit my childhood protestant church, the kids I went to Sunday School with are now middle-aged parents. They are now the elders and the deacons, acting all responsible (which is weird when you remember what goof-offs they were). I appreciate the traditional feel of a church that attended by some familes for many generations, families dedicated to raising their children to know the Lord.
When we attend our local community church, I appreciate that they reach many of the unchurched in our town. As we listen to the message, I appreciate the solid teaching presented every week. Truth is truth, and I am fed when the word of God is taught.
The majority of people in any church are people who sincerely love God and are living their lives in the way that they understand best expresses that.
So why all the questions?
I don’t have answers. I don’t know a better way. In fact, I suspect that things we try in reaction to our questions may be as ineffective as the things we are questioning. For me, questioning is about identifying what I value.