Week 1 of My Church’s Life Group: I Will

I went to my church’s Life Group yesterday.  I probably will not blog on days that I attend my church’s Life Group.  I didn’t blog yesterday!  And I enjoyed the break from blogging.

The meeting actually went by pretty quickly, even though we met for an hour and a half.  We talked about the introduction and the first two chapters of Thom Rainer’s I Will.  People shared about what was going on in their lives and in the life of the church.  I admire people there who have been through a lot, yet are still faithful.

The thesis of Thom Rainer’s book, as I understand it, is that people should not focus on receiving when they go to church, but rather on giving and serving.  Someone in the group candidly admitted that she does go to church to receive: she feels filled when she worships God.  She is hoping to receive edification when she goes to church.  She was not apologetic about that.  The thing is, she is one of the most active members of the church.

I think that church should be about receiving and giving.  Focusing on one to the exclusion of the other does not work, at least not in my experience.  If I focus exclusively on receiving, I will be continually wondering if I am receiving enough.  If I focus exclusively on giving, I can feel depleted.  The two can mutually reinforce each other, though.  As I focus on God, I can be fed, and that can inspire me to serve others.  As I serve others, that can show me what God is like and allow me to experience God in new ways, which feeds me.

We talked briefly about why many people today do not go to church.  Someone talked about how church in the old days was the meeting place for the community.  Someone else mentioned the attacks on Christianity.

I was thinking of saying something, but my thoughts were not fully formulated, so I did not say anything.  Why don’t many people go to church these days?  Of course, blog post after blog post talks about why millennials are leaving church.  I personally identify with a lot of their reasons, at least when it comes to why I feel alienated from right-wing American evangelical churches.  But I doubt that they speak for everyone.  There are plenty of growing evangelical churches.  And there are many people whose reason for not going to church has nothing to do with them being liberal, while the churches are conservative.  They just don’t care about organized religion.



About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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