Southern perspectives

This past weekend I had opportunity to be in the south–particularly in Texas (which, as Texans know and as others usually eventually discover–often carries a set of perspectives all its own). I gained a few relationships and renewed a couple of others. Here are a few tids:

  • Sometimes, those situated within a scene tend to feel that their scene is The Scene. At their best, this group of folks shows kindness and willingness to listen to another perspective. In the middle, they patronize others. And at their worst, they can show condescension and judgment toward things outside their Scene.
  • Being in other communities can offer new perspectives on such things as real estate, economy, and lifestyle; food and health; claustrophobic restlessness; vocation and potential vocation; vocabulary and “accent”; and Christianity.
  • Speaking of Christianity … it’s downright off-putting when individuals (including myself!) think they own The Perspective (a/k/a “have a handle”) on everything. Know-it-alls were repulsive in elementary school, and they are repulsive in churches, too. Of course, chosen phrasings and perceived attitudes on one side of a conversation can contribute to arrogance on the other side. I sometimes recognize when I’m coming across poorly, and it can be difficult to retrace steps in order to set aright conversations about God things.
  • Renewing relationships is rewarding. (It happened more than once for me last weekend.) Maybe this is why NT letters spoke often of love for one another (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 13, Col. 3, 1 John, etc.). And maybe this is why roughly 18% of the non-synoptic gospel is devoted to a Messianic prayer chiefly about unity in relationship.
  • The Bible Belt does indeed labor under different rules … it exists in a different “world” from mine in rural, western NY. “Missional living,” for instance, seems more or less conceptually the same, but in the working out, it is worlds different.
  • I still am ambivalent toward praise teams and paid worship leaders. Part of me wants to be one (a paid worship leader, not a team), because leading the worship of God’s church is an area of unmistakable calling for me. But another part of me apprehends a disconnect between any single leader and a fair chunk of any congregation. To clarify: I was “into” most of the content Sunday morning but was annoyed and distracted a few times by the stylings of the leader. I’m not sure what to do with this other than to recognize the potential downsides of having a single leader in front of a church week after week.
  • Oh, and I still don’t get the “stealth mode” praise team. If you’re going to have people who know the songs and can sing the harmonies, put them in plain view (not Plainview, Texas, necessarily!) 🙂 so there’s not such a visual/aural disconnect, and so they all–not just the one in plain view–have the potential to lead hearts.
  • Despite the communicative gifts of selected ministers one finds here and there, I’m still less than ambivalent about the place of paid preachers in most churches. There’s much too much time spent on one uninspired man’s talk.
  • Ray Thompson, I appreciated your sincere warmth. Men like you are needed in every church.

Skillman, keep moving toward community impact. Part of me wishes you either could sell that magnificent sanctuary, or get more people to use it on Sundays and other days, too (I can’t imagine your a/c bills in the summer!), but that’s not realistic.  Just use it with thanksgiving.  Using females to serve the Lord’s Supper (one doesn’t “serve communion” … communion is not a thing carried in trays) is a step in a good direction toward open, familial, still-God-honoring church in our tradition, but it is only a step. I love your list of ways and organizations in which your people are serving in the community!

Tag… Gaining perspective(s) surely helps, because our God is not limited to any one scenario, but we still all have a long way to go toward the ideals of worshipping the Lord in the absolute beauty of holiness. I have no idea whether this has anything at all to do with my believer’s progress or not, but in my home, we just started spending time in the prophets. I am so ignorant of them that we needed to do this.

God, teach us something about Yourself, and lead us into Your sanctuary to worship heartfully.


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