Thursday, September 23, 2010

Churches - a Cultural Study

Due to some scheduling issues, Hockey Boy is not able to attend our local church for the next two months. We struggled with how to handle this situation. Do we make him go to church and miss practice? Do we make him go to practice since he is part of team and miss church? Are we choosing sports over God? Does it matter if we meet together on Sunday mornings? Is going on just Wednesday night enough?

We prayed about it. We talked it over with Hockey Boy. And we came to the decision that we would not choose hockey over God, but we were comfortable choosing hockey over our local Sunday morning service for a short period of time. We decided to use this opportunity to teach hockey boy the importance of meeting together regularly with other believers to worship. Even if your schedule did not allow you to go to your comfortable, safe, home church on Sunday mornings. As he grows up life might get in the way of Sunday mornings. I know once he is in college and staying up late, sleep might get in the way. He may also choose a career that requires you to work on Sundays. He may become a pastor someday. :)

We looked at different church schedules and found a church nearby that has a service time that works. It is a church I have heard about that draws a young crowd. I have heard they have great music and are really seeker friendly. It even has a children's program on Sunday evenings. So Hockey Boy and I decided to check it out.

First thing that surprised me was the crowds. We had to park quite a ways away and people were streaming into the building, on a Sunday night. Not only were they all coming to church, they were all carrying Bibles. And not little pocket Bibles but big study Bibles. I was a bit stunned by the number of Bibles.

Hockey Boy started in the service with me before the kids were released to their class. The music was good, but LOUD. Too loud for Hockey Boy so we went into the overflow room where it was less deafening. Good thing we went into the overflow room because there was no room in the sanctuary until they released the kids to class and then it was like a sold out movie theater with people trying to find seats and having to cuddle up with your neighbor because every seat was full. I was happy to see Hockey Boy head into this new classroom so easily. He has become really shy over the last few years, but he seems to be comfortable in church, even when it is a new church or camp. I love that he feels so safe in God's houses.

Once the sermon was beginning the pastor asked everyone to open their Bibles and to raise your hand if you did not have a Bible. Every lap had a big Bible on it and those that did not raised their hands high to get one to use. At that moment, I felt a little weird. I had my Bible with me. I always have my Bible with me. It is an app on my phone. I actually have two Bibles on my phone, the Bible app by and also the Reformed Study Bible in case I want the extra study notes. I have my Bible on my phone so I always have it with me. I read it in car line or at hockey practice. I can look up a verse quickly if I want to share it with someone I am with or in an email. But in that room I felt a little less than because I was the only person pulling out my phone to read the Bible. I began to think to myself that I should probably bring a "real" Bible from home next time and not just my pocket Bible, but my really big Study Bible. Maybe I should grab my commentary too?

In that moment I realized how quickly good discipline, bringing your Bible to church, can become cultural and not Biblical. I had my Bible. I was able to follow along with all the scripture references. I was able to take notes if I wanted. There was nothing missing because I was using a Bible on my phone. And yet I felt a bit out of place. I was wondering if people were judging me and thinking I was less of a Christian. Maybe they thought I was a new believer. I wanted to fit into their church culture.

Then the person next to me could not find a pen for her daughter. I had one in my bag so I pulled it out and handed it over to her. She was appreciative but I can only imagine what she thought when she realized it was a pen from our regular church. Not only did I not bring my Bible, but I steal pens too.


  1. Jen. I'm sorry but I'm sitting here laughing over your post. I love those fish out of water moments. I think they're so indicative of our humanity. As for using your bible app...You go girl! :)

  2. I love this! I can not tell you how many times I pull out a pen from church somewhere and think the same thing… I stole it, what will people think? Reading God's word is reading God's word, whether it is with an app or paper.