And this is why it’s dying

I’m on fire right now. Irate. Burning. I went to chapel today. I don’t go to chapel often. Here’s why.

Chapel has been arranged so that it is impossible to sneak in unnoticed if you are late (as I often am).

I remarked to a classmate, “There should be some kind of warning that you can’t sneak into the chapel anymore!” Said classmate was like, “Yeah, right?”

Another classmate said, “Well maybe you should come to chapel more.”

Me: “I would if I liked it.” (I admit, this wasn’t the best statement, but it is very true)

Another classmate (with much snark): “Good luck in your future parish, then.”

Wow. Yup. And that is why the church is dying. I don’t get much out of “traditional” worship, therefore I have no future in the church. To quote Cee-Lo, “Forget you.” Seriously. (Not the person, the attitude.)

Worship is so much bigger than we’re allowing it to be! It doesn’t have to be anything other than preaching the word and administering the sacrament — the form can be so many different things as long as it reflects the community! Acoustic guitars? Great! No instruments? Great! Hip-hop? Go for it! Bluegrass? Right on!

If your community wants to sit still in worship or they want to clap and dance, let them do it. If they want to stay quiet or they want to yell out, “AMEN!” let the spirit move them (and you), let the spirit fill all y’all! If your community wants you to preach for a half an hour, work into it, ask for help!  Yes, I realize I am using a lot of exclamation points!!!!

If we insist on restricting worship to what we know and what we are comfortable with and what we have historically done we are restricting the ways people can encounter God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. Yes, I understand the irony in me not wanting to go to a type of worship I don’t like. It’s not even about whether I like it or not. That’s actually not what bothers me. Most of my church life has been in congregations that are fairly traditional and I can hang. It’s the attitude that this is the way it has to be, that this is the only style of worship that should exist or that is right or valid that gets my panties in a bunch. This is a learning institution, for crying out loud! We should be learning about all of the possibilities in worship, experimenting with styles and genres. STUDENT WRITTEN LITURGIES SHOULD BE SUPPORTED!!!! I have had enough conversations with my community here to know that the style of worship we have every week does not reflect the skills, desires or voices of the entire community. There are many people who are fed by “traditional” worship. There are many, many more who are not. This might explain why so few people go. This is also a reason why so few people go in the rest of our society. It’s certainly not all about worship, but the refusal of so many to even think of trying anything different most certainly contributes to our declining numbers.

Get out of the box. God is bigger than the box. It’s fine if you keep your feet in, but get your arms out there and see what the world is telling you it wants and needs. More importantly, see what God is telling you the world needs. I bet you it will be much bigger than traditional hymns and a mediocre sermon on a Sunday morning.

End of rant. For now.

I am, we are 32 flavors and then some.

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About Elizabeth Rawlings

Lutheran. Feminist. Child of God. Thinking about how to be a leader in a church that is trying to rediscover itself and what it means to live simply so that others may simply live in tandem with what exactly is the fast God asks of us. Chronic alliterator. Generally silly person. View all posts by Elizabeth Rawlings

2 responses to “And this is why it’s dying

  • Christyn Koschmann

    Having had the exact same experience as you at the exact same place, I had the exact same reaction. Especially the “professors only” part when it comes to preaching on Wednesday. A-freakin’-men.

    I got kicked out of Word and Sacrament for raising this issue – and the professor even blacklisted my husband (finance at the time) as a trouble maker simply because he was my partner and thus must have had the same “attitude” (which he did, but didn’t express vocally as I did). I had to sit down with the president of the school and said professor for mediation because he was unsure he could pass me in the class… all very ironic because I was in the diaconal – not ordained – track at the time – and thus didn’t technically even need to take Word and Sacrament for my roster status but instead for my MDiv.

    But no worries, we apparently aren’t the future of the church – they still are. Or at least they have the most power. FOR NOW (insert evil laugh here)!

    ::steps off of soap-box::

    • Elizabeth Rawlings

      What the actual fuck? I don’t know if you read my many posts on my disappoint at PLTS (or as I called it, preparing me to be a pastor for the 50’s), but that’s actually why I started blogging. To vent. Because I was regularly pissed off (and not just because my marriage was falling apart). My final project for American Lutheranism or whatever was a big middle finger to how eurocentric that class was. It was blog on ten moments in Lutheran Church History involving people of color. But, I’m out!! We made it! 🙂

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