img_7982.jpgMoving from Southern California to the mid west as you can imagine, has been full of change for us.  The differences in the pace of life, lifestyle, values and right down our church experience.  In the small community where we live, the worship experience is very different as is my perception of people’s motivation for attending church.

Please understand I write this from the perspective of observation and inspiration, not judgement.

The church experience here for many, seems to be more motivated by people’s “duty” to attend church.  Oh there are still many folks here who are filled with the spirit of God and thirst for more knowledge and learning about Him and how to be more like him.  I am not in their shoes but my take is that a lot of people attend church because it is what you do or it is what is expected.  Of course where I come from in church experience is very different and is something, I hazard to guess, most people here have never experienced at all.  The perspective I come from is having had such a spiritual and educational experience with church, that I couldn’t get enough of it!  I literally “thirsted” for more like a parched person lost in the desert after having had their first sip of water . . . MORE . . . MORE . . . MORE!

First of all let me set the stage a bit for my concerns; I am a big believer in osmosis . . . the process of taking things on just by being in their proximity and not due to making an active effort to take them on.  Example; when we spend our time around very positive people; our outlook tends to become more positive . . . without us making an effort to become more positive.  When we hear people talking about certain things on a regular basis, whether we are actively listening or not . . . the ideas will come to settle into our minds . . . subconscious or not.  The osmosis of life according to Pat!

The observation that came to me recently is that when we are motivated to drink in everything we can spiritually, we listen and discern the message more.  We think about how it applies to us or if it applies to us.  We also look at the validity of the message that is being delivered.  The process goes on and on.

When we are just going through the motions of going to church . . . a lot can be said without our focusing on it and discerning much about it.  The issue is that the osmosis effect still goes on.  We hear the words being spoken albeit subconsciously.  That’s great if the things spoken are truth and valid and relevant to you.  But think about this, if the message is off the mark, either in application or even theology . . . you are drinking a lot in . . . forming a lot of invalid opinions and values by default.

Something to think about . . . I have enough influences around me which, by default form certain opinions and values I may or may not want.  What about church?  If I am going to invest my time in going, hopefully I am growing in a direction God wants me to grow in.

So here is the cheese that goes with my whine; as we study and spend quiet time with God in our daily lives, we perceive (or hear) Him more and more.  As we develop our relationship with God, we will be inspired to attend church with a purpose . . to learn and become more like Christ.  The message will have more relevance and impact on us and we will begin to actively discern things about the message we are hearing.

To borrow the “Purpose Driven” trademark from Pastor Rick Warren for a moment . . . If we can all become “Purpose Driven Church Attenders” our lives will be more fulfilled and blessed by God . . . not to mention our churches.

This is not something for me to prescribe to you . . . but perhaps it is a good subject to visit with God about in your next quiet time!

Again, that’s just where I am this morning . . . perhaps it’s something to think about.