A few days ago I received the following thought-provoking comment on the “Things I’m Looking For” page.
“do you think there’s a danger of slipping into a me-centred consumeristic attitude, rather than seeing the search for a church as the search for a community to be part of and to contribute to? To paraphrase JFK, don’t just ask what a church can do for you, but what you can do for the church. Just another angle you might want to consider!”
There are two real parts to my answer:
First, I should note that the very process of church-shopping is by its very nature individualistic, and does to an extent treat church (christ-centered community) as a commodity like any other. I do not believe that church is a commodity, but urban church life is very different to the kind of parish life that presupposes an obvious choice as to what community one should behave as part of.
I am looking to find a church community to engage with, and contribute to. Churches are, however, incredibly diverse and I want to make sure I make the right choice. Like most people my beliefs and values are very important to me, and there are quite a lot of churches where I would not agree with the leadership enough to feel comfortable there. Also, things like style of worship and congregation have to be considered as well. Although I am attempting to as be open minded as possible, I have felt a little out of place in a couple of the Churches I’ve visited, due to either age or mindset. So yes, my choice of church is “me-centred”, because it is “me” that will be giving up my free time to attend. But though my perspective comes only from myself, I am looking for a church where “me” can fully contribute and feel part of the worship community. An individual looking for a group.
Secondly, I am in a sense part of a church community. I am a regular attendee of wednesday nights at Sanctus 1, in the Nexus Cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I like Sanctus’ originality, casual attitude and I am beginning to get to know the people there better. Sanctus has a lot of strenghts, but those strengths can sometimes be weaknesses too. It is open to all types of people and opinions, but in its attempt to be non-divisive and creative it isn’t very worship focussed. Sometimes I feel that it doesn’t really fulfil my more spiritual needs, but I do feel part of the community and I feel that God is present there, but not in quite the same intensity as at a more traditional church.
Hope this has given my perspective on your comment!