Friday, December 12, 2008

God's house...

A few weeks ago I heard a statement about the "sanctuary" (in a church building) being God's house and how we need to show proper respect when in it.

I always get my back up when I hear that because I don't see what makes the sanctuary any more holy or set apart than say, my office.

They both have sound systems, uncomfortable chairs, Bibles, musical instruments, unused hymnals, places to store books, and occasionally even people and a slightly funky odor.

How do you change this mentality?

Or maybe a better question is can you change this mentality?


theoquest said...

It's a tough one. I think a lot of people confuse reverence for God with being solemn and somber. The only thing I know to do is to keep modeling a healthy reverence/proper respect for God outside of the "sanctuary".

Also, changing language sometimes helps. In any building without 'church' on the sign, that room would be called an auditorium. Use caution with this, though, and appropriate love for the people who'll be offended when you tip their sacred cow. (I still get sideways looks when I call our hardfloor room with two hoops and lines on the floor a gym instead of the 'family life center'.)

There may be some individual's whose mentality won't change, but you CAN change this on a larger scale. Not overnight, though.

jonathan said...

Personally, I think what's at the heart of this issue is money. Often it's not "God's House" that they're really concerned about. It's "God's house... which I built and payed for out of my own pocket". And that entitles them - that let's them be the ones who get to interpret what "proper respect" means.
If they truly believed it was God's house, they'd let God use it for God's purposes (which, admittedly, can be a mix of contemplative, loud, smelly, holy, awkward, messy, etc...). Maybe the trouble here arises when people misunderstand what tithing is all about.

That's a bit of a rant - but at the same time, I really empathize when people struggle with what "proper respect" means. They're just living out the faith that was taught to them by parents and previous pastors - so some of this stuff doesn't hit them as a "cultural thing that changes with the times" - it's an affront to God.

benjskramer said...

I think the biggest problem is one that is often perpetuated by pastors and is an unhealthy understanding of Scripture. It's the process of trying to apply OT standards to NT ways of living. The same idea that makes people want "respect in the sanctuary" is the same ideas that make people believe in a 10% as God's rule. In the OT you wouldn't play games in the holy of holies and a lot of people see our churches as temples rather than just another building that we gather in as Christians as I think the NT would see it. If want people to really move beyond seeing our lives through OT lenses like the church as holy of holies we need to be consistent in preaching it in all areas.

benjskramer said...

I meant 10% tithe as God's rule. In my haste my typing got away from me.

jon said...

i actually like the idea of a sanctuary. a sacred place. a place of safety. a place set apart and to be respected as such. i could care less if i see one more evangelical church that could just as easily be the theatre.

give me stained glass, crosses, an altar with candles, the bread and cup, or some murals of the christ-life, a visible (not hidden) baptismal font, a prayer area, some ashes, some oil, . . . heck i'd even take a monument or two to some saints and an icon or two! i want to feel a part of that same faith as the OT and the church fathers had. i want to be connected to THAT. i could care less if i get the best dang worship band and all teh stage trappings and the blank walls and theatre seating.

at the same time, the division between "God's house" and everyday life is disturbing. Like we should "leave our cares at the door" and then pick them up again on our way out. i'm with you on changing that mindset. the sacred is out there too. it goes with us.

but give me the sacred place over the soundstage 52 Sundays a week, thank you.

Knotter said...

Some good thoughts here.

It's these kinds of statements that remind me of a tour I once took of a Mormon Temple. Before entering one of the rooms we were asked to remain silent as we entered a room that they believed God to be in.

The comment i heard a few weeks ago just makes me nervous as it tends to make me feel some people have God tucked away in a nice box in a certain location for certain days.

I guess I'm just rethinking how we try to move people away from compartmentalizing God. And I'm just as guilty as the next person.

But my hope is that as my students grow up that they wouldn't see God as being in just one spot in a building. I'd like to see them living a life that makes room for God in every area.