“Get With It”

vineyard

A major change in leadership in our Friends Church led us to seek another place to worship. This time it was in a dramatically different setting called The Vineyard, where a student of mine was active. The adjustment was jarring, but we became comfortable in a very different setting. But the differences!

First, we were at least 25 years older than most of the attendees. We became parent figures, for better or worse. (Usually better.)

Second, by now we had been Christians for quite a while and were meeting many young adults with no faith background. So we became elders(in an informal sense.)

Third, the music was live and LOUD. So loud in fact that we bought economy sized packages of foam earplugs and kept them in the car to use at each service.

Fourth, there was no physical church, so each Sunday chairs were set up in a school gym and taken down and put away at the end. Fortunately most attendees were in their 20’s and handled this task.

And finally, their music went on for a very long time. And in the culture of this community, people stood, usually with their hands in the air and sang and sang. I usually sat after a few minutes and let the music be a backdrop for my silent reflection.(You can take a Quaker out of meeting, but you can’t take the meeting out of a Quaker.)

While this might seem, at first, to be very similar to the gospel worship at Maranatha, it really wasn’t. Reflecting on the reason, I conclude that the gospel songs at Maranatha were informed by a different theology–that of overcoming together with God’s help. They seemed communal. The Vineyard songs seemed to stress an individual relationship with Jesus. So even though everyone was singing together, it seemed to me that many individuals were having their own personal experiences.

I didn’t find my soul refreshed in the way that it had been both with gospel music and the old hymns, but I treasured the chance to get a glimpse into a contemporary Christian setting. And they served great doughnuts and coffee.

8 thoughts on ““Get With It”

  1. I tried one of those types of churches many years ago, like you the experience left me feeling unfulfilled. To me it was just too much of a party atmosphere, not enough seriousness and reverence. There is a place for everything.
    I stopped going years ago after it became apparent that the new leaders were not in it solely for God’s word or to work for the parishioners. Someone can offer the younger ones a better pay package and it’s adios. You never know when they are going to be recruited away. Gone are the days of going to a church where your pastor is there all your life. I miss those days.

    1. Ron, I appreciate that you know a little,of what I wrote about. I am helped by your mention of reverence. I think I missed the sense of the transcendent God. There was for me too much a sense of Jesus as friend, not also God as Supreme.

  2. I read this and I have a similar experience of leaving a church and now being in a place which is totally different. I’m not an elder, I’m just one of a few black people at my church. The music if gospel, but contemporary Christian. Yet, I love the Word. I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone and went on a retreat last month. I roomed with two ladies I didn’t know. I’ve always known this, but when we get to heaven, I believe there will be any race, cultural, age, or denomination segregation. Christians will be just that Christian who follow Christ!

  3. I so agree. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I experience this a great deal already in every day life. I remember being on St. Thomas and spontaneously embracing a West Indian woman who smiled at me knowing we shared our faith. No words needed.

  4. Thanks for writing this segment, friend. It is good to know how it was for you, though you did tell me some of this. Currently, our Vineyard is going back to some important traditions that are revitalizing the sense of awe and honor. We had a Tenebrae service on Good Friday and our communion has become a bit more of a physical experience. I agree that we can be too casual. Here’s to the day when we all embrace our Savior together!

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