Sunday, November 11, 2007

999 conversations to go

I think I once noted at HC that the average person needs to be asked seven (7) times before they'll go to church. Seven freaking times.

If that's the case, my friend John snuck in at just under than the average. I've been trying to persuade a friend to attend Imago with me for a while and finally it happened today. True story.

Without giving much of his background away, let's just summarize John by saying that he grew up in the deep South, went to college with me in Virginia and somewhere along the line lost his faith. I don't think he'd mind me revealing those things.

At any rate, I have total ADD right now, and when this happens I like to eschew paragraph form in favor of bullet points. I also like to pat myself in the back for using the word "eschew."

Some things I thought about today:

• How frightening it is to walk into a big church for the first time. Even at a place as seemingly hospitable as Imago, the sheer number of people in attendance is staggering. It's easy to feel small and lost in the crowd, which is yet another reason why greeting people (and simply smiling at passers-by) is important.

• How thankful I am to have friends who will stand there and get to know a stranger, rather than just introducing themselves to him and moving on to a different conversation. That means so much to me I cannot put it into words.

• How easy it is to feel marginalized when you're not accustomed to a church's way of doing things. Thank Heavens that Imago makes announcements about the offering, has Communion in the front and doesn't sing hymns. I cannot emphasize this enough: these traditions do not make sense unless you've previously been to church. I remember my first few times at church wondering how everyone else knew what to do. How did they know the words to these songs? What was I supposed to do when this wicker basket was passed down the aisle? Am I supposed to drink this plastic cup of purple liquid right away, or am I meant to wait until everyone else has received it?

• How great it is to have a pastor who a) preaches from the word; and b) fesses up to being broken.

But what I'm choosing to remember most today is a conversation about Pink Floyd. John's band lists them as a major musical influence. When he mentioned as much aloud, he was asked if they were a bunch of stoners. John and I have a similar opinion on Floyd: their music is phenomenal and it's a shame so many people associate them with drugs.

It occurred to me how similar I feel to Jesus' message in relation to Christians. I love Jesus' message and it's a shame so many people have chosen to distort it. Here's hoping we can all work to communicate Jesus' message, not our own warped opinions.


annie skroski said...

I totally agree with you on this, and I think we really need to be more aware of this as we invite friends/acquitances/family members to church for the first time. I've brought a few friends to Imago and it's been probably been the easiest "take friend to church" experience as opposed to other churches I've invited people to, due largely to the community being so welcoming and the explanations given every week for communion, offering, etc. And the sermons too have had positive feedback. It's nice to actually see someone experience the church in a positive way, without the expense of truth or glossing over any tough stuff.

Leisha said...

Are hymns really that bad? I personally love hymns, and I love the way Imago does them. How are hymns different from other worship songs?