Our Politically Correct Culture Is Destroying Our Churches: Part II
Our Politically Correct Culture Is Destroying Churches: Part II
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article expressing my frustration with churches and their fear of being politically correct. At that time, I had tried a few churches in the Des Moines area, but hadn’t found the right fit for me. I wanted to follow up on that article with suggestions for not only finding the right church, but how to get the most out of your spiritual experience at that church.
When I realized I no longer wanted to belong to the church I had been attending, I posted a question on Facebook, asking friends for church suggestions. I received a flood of comments, and I will admit that I did not try every church that was suggested. However, I started with Lutheran churches because that’s what I grew up with, and as soon as I attended my first worship service at St. Paul Lutheran in Ankeny, I felt at home.
When I pulled into the parking lot that first Sunday, there was a minivan with an NRA member bumper sticker. I took that as a positive sign. The worship followed the style that I was used to, with the traditional hymns that I love. I felt inspired by the message, and afterwards, lots of people said hello and introduced themselves to me, making me feel welcome. The congregation had members of all ages, from babies to elderly. As I perused the bulletin with weekly announcements, there seemed to be a lot going on, with something for everyone. There were groups for youth, people in their 20s-40s, and seniors. I also noticed lots of opportunities for community outreach and service, including volunteering at Meals From The Heartland and a pro-life pregnancy center.
I attended a few more Sunday morning worship services just to make sure, and when I was determined that this was “the one”, I requested to meet with a pastor to transfer my membership from my home church in Iowa City.
When I met with the pastor in his office, I asked him what denomination their church belonged to.
“We are LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod),” he told me.
I will admit, I was not expecting to leave the ELCA. When I was a kid, I went to a LCMS summer Bible camp and had a great experience while I was there. But I was also told a lot of myths about the LCMS, things that may have been true at one time or in some congregations, but were not factual (you have to be baptized in the LCMS to take communion, you have to present your “LCMS Card” to receive communion, you have to be baptized in the LCMS to be confirmed there, etc). I told the pastor about my growing dissatisfaction with the ELCA, particularly with their watered-down, feel-good, anything-goes message.
He understood where I was coming from, and he told me that their church philosophy is that there are two axes: Truth and Love. The Truth axis focuses on our sinful nature and the consequences that result from bad thoughts and behaviors, while the Love axis emphasizes God’s unconditional love and the forgiveness of our sins. Some churches go to extremes on either axis, preaching that God is judgmental and unaccepting, or that God is lenient and anything is acceptable, because there is no such thing as right or wrong. He said that their church fell somewhere in the middle of the graph, believing that both are important and necessary for our faith.
After I joined the church, I looked for other ways to get involved. While I enjoy going to worship on Sunday morning, that is only the tip of the iceberg, and I feel that I benefitted so much more and grown in my faith by becoming involved in other ways. The groups that I have joined have helped me to learn more about the Bible, provide opportunities to serve my community, and I have gotten to know people on a more personal level and I have made lots of new friends. Being active in church activities during the week is also good for weekends when I am travelling or have other things going on and can’t make it to church. These are a few of my suggestions to get the most out of your spiritual experience, regardless of your religious beliefs.
· Join or start a Bible study
· Join or start a social group
· Go to the adult education forums on Sunday morning
· Attend midweek services
· Sign up to assist with worship services (reading Scripture lessons, serving communion, ushering, greeting, playing or singing music, etc)
· Participate in community service projects