A View from the Pew - Introduction
I have been going to church for as long as I can remember. The son of a Baptist minister, I have basically belonged to a local church for all (well most) of my life, usually a Baptist, middle of the road type congregation. As I now approach 50 (not for a couple of years), I am looking back at the church and how it has changed, and I guess in many ways I am disappointed about what we have become. Don’t get me wrong – I love the church and I am committed to my faith in Jesus and His Word as the cornerstone of my life, but I’m not sure the forms of church we now have are particularly much more than a club that is built around a number of cultural practices that mostly seem to appeal to middle-class women.
I am no theologian and I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I do want to raise questions and discuss them without the fear of offending people. I’m sure many people will disagree with me and that is good – at least we may start to think about what the church has become and the cultural practices that we have raised to the level of dogma. It seems to me that there are a small number of absolutes that mark a gathering as Christian, and outside of that the rest is all about personal preference, cultural activities, and Westernised traditions. Just look around the world and see how different church services are in different countries and cultural groups. Our Western forms can’t be the only way to do things. In the West at least, churches seem to be mainly filled (or half empty) with middle-upper class people, with usually about 70% women. My understanding is that the gospel is meant for everyone (pretty sure I have this theological principle right) and something is radically wrong when church appears to be so un-welcoming to large sections of our community.
I love God and I love His people, and as much as anything, this forum is a place for me to explore ideas about these issues – the act of writing it is, in part, a way for me to think and discuss thoughts that are ‘in process’ and loosely formed, so hopefully the church might better reflect Jesus and His teachings in the Bible.