Wednesday, July 23, 2014

reflections on church integration

Worshiping at five rather-similar churches over the past month, I've been struck by the differences in culture, class, preaching and worship styles-- all of which make it somewhat/surprisingly challenging to move from one congregation to another.

Sometimes, we wonder why (far more) churches aren't "better" (more) integrated in terms of race and class. Throw in centuries of history on race, the (eternal?) difficulties of crossing class "barriers", learning new songs, getting used to different worship and preaching approaches. Then, there's just the work of getting to know new people. And until 60 years ago, you would have just gone to a church close to your home, because transportation was so challenging-- which would have built fixity into all of the above.

And here, I'm talking about simply visiting churches-- and the barriers there. If we were to actually make the far-larger investment of joining a new church community or a new denomination, we would find larger "barriers" that are inevitable but ranging from reasonable to "ideological".

Maybe we should be thankful for the integration that has taken place. We should continue to strive to break down barriers. But, in practice, like many things, it's easier to talk about than to do.

I should add that we felt reasonably comfortable in all five churches-- and everybody at each church did everything reasonable to be friendly and welcoming. The "challenge" of being (completely) comfortable was simply in the differences between the churches and being in a new place.

Which five churches? Of course, we've been to our church (Southeast CC-- So. IN). But we've had occasion to visit St. Stephens (So. IN), Oak Park Baptist (Jeff), Mt. Zion Baptist (No. KY) and So. L'ville CC. Since the middle school programming at SE doesn't start for another week, maybe we'll visit a sixth this weekend!

It's been good to be with more brothers and sisters in Christ-- even when it's only been the light touch of a "visit". And we hope it's been really good for our kids to see something different!



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