Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where did I get that idea?

Metamorpha Chapter 1 Blogmap: Try to pinpoint the traits, both good and bad, that come from the religious tradition you grew up with or are currently in.

I belong to the first generation of people who grew up in a seeker church. For those of you who've never heard that term, a "seeker church" is a church that is geared towards reaching non-Christians. Now, every Christian is charged with the great commission--spreading the gospel--but seeker churches take it a step further by programming their entire service around making non-Christians feel welcome through the kind of music and media used (and the kinds of overtly religious symbolism they leave out) and by teaching entry-level lessons on the faith.

Thinking back to how that experience shaped my spiritual beliefs, I realize that the concept of spiritual formation wasn't addressed much at all. The emphasis was on what Christianity is, what it believes, and why people should be Christians--which makes sense, given the expected audience. The sermons focused on living in a Christian way and how that manifests itself in your relationships, marriage, financial practices, etc. As a result, I know a lot about the application of the faith, but very little on the development of it.

There are a lot of things I learned through my seeker-church years that I don't really believe anymore. I came to believe that the more traditional forms of worship--singing hymns, reciting creeds, praying prayers that were written out by someone else (like in a prayer book)--were either insufficient (though for what, I don't know), ineffective, or just plain wrong. No one ever said this, but I think the fact that they were omitted completely was enough of a lesson. I came to believe that there must be a specific day to which a Christian can point and say, "That's when I became a Christian." I also came to believe that church is a place where people come to become Christians, and not just a place where Christians come to grow and be taught. It's hard to admit that I think I was mistaught; I don't like to shed a poor light on a movement that led to my entire family being Christian today. But every movement has its faults.

Obviously I learned things there that I am grateful for having been taught. For example, I am pretty well-versed in the defense of the faith. I know the basic doctrine. I know the support for the Bible that allows us to be confident in its truth and teaching. I know how to integrate my faith into my everyday life and not compartmentalize my faith.

It's interesting, now, being a mom and being in charge of facilitating the spiritual development of another person. I'm much more aware of how the way I approach my faith will permanently impact my child. I think of the things I was raised to believe, the traditions we held or did not hold, the ways my parents demonstrated their faith, and I think about how Dan and I will do things the same or differently from them. And it hits me just how immense the responsibility is. The responsibility for churches is uthe same: immense. Guess that's why the Bible has that passage about leaders and teachers being held to a higher standard.

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