Saturday, August 08, 2009

Church Hunting Again

After spending the entire day doing some practice questions for Step 1, I'm feeling extremely unprepared for this exam. I pretty much haven't gotten any decent studying in for the past 2-3 weeks and I've only got about 3 weeks to go. I was contemplating not bothering to find a new church tomorrow and just staying in a spending another full day studying.

A part of me thought, what if I just read my bible for a bit and spend some time in prayer? Would that be a sufficient replacement for driving around trying to find a building to sit in for a few hours? After all, church is really about a body of believers worshiping the one true God together in unity. So what if Albert and I just get together and study the bible and pray together? Maybe even sing a few a cappella songs? I know it sounds bad but I'm only here for 6 weeks and for the next 3 weeks I'm going to be spending every spare moment cramming. Is 6 weeks enough time to even join a small group and make it worth the effort?

After a bit of consideration, I think I will go find a church to attend tomorrow. Not that there's anything innately wrong with having a two-man church service with Albert. I already missed one last week because I was driving up to Rockhampton. It will be a great way to start my day and I really need to stop avoiding most social contact and meet some new people. Who knows? Maybe I'll meet some people who also work at the hospital. Maybe I'll make some friends for life. Maybe I'll even meet some super awesome bogan-ish girl...or maybe I'll just be able to spend some quality time with God.

I think I'll check out St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. I had a look at the Presbyterian Church of Queensland website and their doctrine of faith looks pretty good. Another possibility is Burdekin Baptist Church but I can't find any info about them other than the address and 9:30am service time.

There's a Christian Outreach Centre (COC) here but having a look through what they believe, they have a big emphasis on speaking in "other tongues" through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and prophecy. Are these languages or self-edifying spiritual babbling? On a similar note, there's Burdekin Community Church which is part of the AoG Churches. I know this sounds bad but, since I know I'm visiting and will be attending a maximum of 6 services, I'm tempted to go to a COC or AoG church for their lively worship atmosphere. I know I should commit it to God when it comes to becoming an active part of the a church body. But what about when you're traveling? I know I'm probably not going to join a ministry in 6 weeks so can I be a bit more self-interested? Is it right for me to choose one that meets my spiritual needs whether it be good preaching or a certain style of music for worship?

In the end, I feel it probably wouldn't be good to attend a church when I'm already having reservations after reading their statement of faith. So I'll give the Presbyterian Church a shot and, if necessary, check out the Baptist church next week. Or maybe we'll go visit 6 different churches - a different one every week - and compare the experiences as a little experiment. Perhaps even go visit a Kingdom Hall and/or Stake House. I wonder if there are any opinions out there on whether a Christian should visit and participate in say a JW or Mormon worship service. Normally I wouldn't wag my own church service but in this case, I'm unable to attend my home church anyway. Is it possible to attend a JW or Mormon service, maintain respect for their practices as a "visitor" and also respect God by not engaging in idolatry? It seems like it would be an enlightening and educational experience (combined with a chance to exercise your apologetics during the post-service prosthelytizing). I'll have to give this some more thought...



Blogger Steeejei said...

I want to bullet point my comment because it's late and I'm preaching early tomorrow morning (eek!)

- interesting train of thought that you have in this post :)

- church hopping isn't the greatest way to grow

- church hopping while you're away for such a short period of time might give you the benefit of seeing many different denominations to learn from each of them - the strengths and weaknesses. It'll be a great opportunity to grow more relationally as you have a bit more of an insight into each denominational quirks.

- Visiting a JW or Mormon church would be of some value - but ensure that your prepared for the onslaught of half-truths and misinformation :)

- The Pressy church up north is great :) Gavin Henderson is an SMBC graduate so you should get a wonderful sermon.

- Will be praying for a fruitful time away :)

7:20 AM  
Anonymous lamb said...

i went to a mormon baptism once...

aside from the fact that i totally had no idea what they were on about after the first 5 minutes or so... you definitely wouldnt go there if you liked music... (sat in my seat to sing mormon hymns while some 'leader' lady waved her arms and conducted the congregation like a choir... the idea was reverence they said... but reminded me of a funeral)

then again... not all AoG churches have worship teams like Hope or Hillsong... so yeah going to a small AoG church is quite a different experience. i am not particularly bugged by the tongues thing... i do enjoy how much passion they show through their music/worship... and i met a great bunch of guys and girls who love Jesus and are doing a great job reaching out to their community. so us asian christians have a lot to learn from them.

anyways yea def dont go to mormon or jw kingdom hall if ur spiritually not 100%... which might be the case if ur constantly cramming and super distracted... be careful hey, i'd kick your ass if anything bad happens :P

finally, i like how you had to wiki 'bogan' for canadians.

run hard bro.. will be prayin for ya

8:08 AM  
Blogger Wonton said...

Thanks for the comments guys!

I'm totally against "church hopping" and I probably shouldn't have used that term. It's a very selfish way to approach church with little give and mostly take. I definitely think it's important to prayerfully commit to a church where God can use us. I've concluded after these last few years that there isn't a single "perfect" church out there (you'd have to have perfect people to make it happen).

I guess some experiences can be useful for learning but many often aren't necessary. I've wanted to visit a mosque and see how they do things but that's would probably satisfy my curiosity and do little to build me up. I don't regret going to Catholic Masses attending a Mormon service, or observing some Hindu worship ceremony (I thought the Indian buffet was at a restaurant but I found out after it was linked in with some religious ceremony) but I would have to say that I benefited very little and I was in no position to benefit them either. Walking onto their turf and telling them off is not an effective way of preaching Christ.

I think I was a bit quick to pass judgment on the COC and AoG churches. I should be careful to stereotype any church regardless of their affiliation/name/etc. "Oh, that's a Chinese church...I know what those are like..." I also shouldn't have commented on the gifts or graces of the Holy Spirit because it's fully possible that they use them wisely and to give all glory to God.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Matt! I really enjoyed your post! After reading it I don't think you could go wrong with any of the ideas that you suggested. I wish every once and a while I could visit other churches but with my own church obligations I can't really do that. I use to end up at 3 different churches a week (Sunday morn, Sun night and Mon night) because I loved the different emphasis each made on worship, prayer and teaching. I learned a lot from a Pentecostal church (AOG) but I am an Alliance girl at heart. Ultimately does God look down and see denominations? I don't think so. He see's His Church and people and not our man made buildings.
Hey, we should hit up a Mormon temple when you come back for a visit.
Hope your six weeks is a blessed time!

2:39 PM  

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