"Come as you are" Worship?

This is a spinoff of another thread-we were discussing the current practices of some non-denominational churches. There are a few in my area that have coffee shops, people bring food and drinks into the sanctuary. The service itself is similar to a concert musically, with a lecture in the middle. People take notes like in a classroom. Everything about it is low key, but in my experience it did lead to some genuine conversions and changed lives.

I’m not running this practice down at all, please understand that. I attended such a church for about two years. It was a big part of what eventually led me back to the Catholic Church. At the time my friend invited me, I was away from church and God in just about every way. That casual, relaxed atmosphere was just what I needed at that time.

I guess the question is…even though the practices at these churches are often shocking to life long Catholics and other high church folk…is it really so wrong?

There is nothing wrong with what these folks are doing, per se, unless that is the extent of their worship. In other words, there is nothing wrong with eating cheese and crackers as a snack, but if that is the extent of your diet, you are going to be malnourished. Only in the Catholic Church is one given a well balanced meal.

Having said that, there are many who are brought to the Lord through our separated bretheren and we should all give thanks to God for that. We should also pray that they come all the way back home someday.

I sorta see them as some early apocryphal Christianity worshipers in a sense of being very local and doing their own thing. I suppose if I was living during the time as early Hellenist Christians it would be the norm?

I can’t say if they are right or wrong in what they do but they do not fit in my comfort level.

I’ll quote what I said in the other topic, and then add to it.

It’s important to bring people to God, but it is also important that people understand the importance of what is written in the Bible; and they need to understand the reverence it deserves. It may not be “wrong” in a moral sense, but I also don’t think that it is particularly “right” considering what we owe God.

I personally believe that this lax attitude is more of a problem than a solution. While it’s true that there are a few who seek a deeper understanding of their faith and eventually find the full Truth of the Catholic Church; a much larger percentage of them are happy to have their coffees and listen to their pastors talk about this and that. They don’t seek to learn more about the Faith because the importance of it is not readily apparent in their worship. It’s more about comfort, and what feels good; not about the Truth. If these church’s would reinforce the importance of scripture through their service methods, and reinforce the importance of studying scripture, then I think a much larger percentage of them would realize that their church is lacking the full truth and begin to make their way home to us.

I am very happy that the relaxed atmosphere brought you back to God; but I hold that you are in the minority. The atmosphere of relaxation undermines the importance of the Scriptures; it makes it seem like just another minor part of the day, rather than the focus it should be.

Reducing our beliefs / religious practices to “Just one thing we do among many” is exactly what secularists hope for. Instead, I believe that the scripture should be paid ample reverence, and should be touted as the focus point they deserve to be. It all these churches were to do that, I personally believe that more people would really study the Scriptures, and as such, more people would return home to the Catholic Church.

As I said, I’m glad it worked for you, and I cannot say that the practices are exactly immoral; I just think they are blunting the edge of the Scripture’s Truth and importance.

(note, I won’t be able to reply frequently, so sorry if it takes a long time to me to get abck to the topic.)

I have taken notes at Mass during the homily, on more than one occasion.

A good/great homily can and does inspire me to search deeper.

With that being said, I am getting older, and need notes, or I forget by the time i get to the parking lot. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have to admit there are things I miss about those days. I miss the immersion in Scripture-the place I went to would study a book of the Bible at a time. We went through it verse by verse and looked at what it meant to the readers of the time and what it means to us today. I wish more Catholic priests would take the Sunday readings apart like that!

And as a self-confessed Starbucks addict, having my coffee with me during the service wasn’t such a bad thing.

I’ve actually thought about going to both churches on the weekend-Saturday night at the non-denominational place and Sunday morning Mass.

I do not think that style of worship is wrong. But I do not think it is the best, or highest, form of worship. If people think or teach that is the highest form of worship then that would be wrong. What is missing is a sense of the sacred and formality. Our culture has become very informal and presumptive. This has influenced religious practice as well in that it is appealing. I think these influences are overall not a good thing and responsible for more people stopping Christian practice rather than starting it.

Hi Seeker,

It brought me back to God too. After going to church irregularly as a child across all denominations, I started going with my then-boyfriend, now husband to his church, which was exactly as you described. We were married and I was baptized in that church, and very involved in it, which led me to start thinking more about religion and God, leading me to the Catholic Church.

Yes, it was an adjustment to not having my coffee with me in church.

I am getting reading to duck and cover, but really…people can’t go for one hour without coffee or water? :blush:

I go to a Bible study at my parish every Friday evening. We are studying the book of Acts and our Priest who leads the study has estimated that it will take us two years to complete the study. We have coffee, snacks, whatever we want. But I also go to Mass every Sunday. So, as I said before, there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. It is what they are missing that is important. Bible study does not replace Mass.

Kind of what I’ve been thinking >_>

Just because I like having it doesn’t mean I can’t survive without it. :shrug:

I know that I am a rarity, but due to a couple of medical conditions, I have to have water available at all times.

Again, I realize that I am the exception rather than the rule.

Did anyone say something about “not being able to go one hour?”

You get used to something if you do it over and over. I was used to waking up, going to Starbucks, and drinking my coffee at church. So when I started going to Mass, I got up, went to Mass, then got coffee afterward. My husband will not get up any earlier in order to get coffee first, so I just had to wait til after Mass. The extra hour did sometimes give me a headache because caffeine is addictive and when your body doesn’t have it at the same time it’s used to, there are withdrawal symptoms.

I said it was an adjustment, easy to get used to it being right there next to you. Kind of like smokers often need to have something in their hand because they’re used to it.

I didn’t say I almost died when I started going to Mass because I didn’t have coffee.

During Sunday School, we have carafes of coffee available in the halls of our educational building. People are free to bring in bottled water or drinks from their Mc D’s breakfast as well.

During worship, however, we do NOT bring drinks into the sanctuary, and certainly never food.
Well, sometimes the choir leader will have a bottle of water, as he’s singing and exhorting and really wearing his voice out, and we’ve had bottled water during long preaching meetings with other churches, but people aren’t swigging away during service.

As to notes? We are encouraged to take notes, to study deeper. On Sunday nights our church has a small paper printed with note guides on that nights sermon to help along. We consider church not only a time to hear preaching/speaking, but a study/learning time, too. The Word of God is very important, and people use notebooks, ipads, ect to follow it closely.

I’ve been taking notes, and a random but related thought will pop into my head. I’ll write it down, and not 2 minutes later the pastor will say that exact thought. So yeah, we’re getting guidance and encouragement in a Big Way, kwiim? :smiley:

I can understand other people prefer more structure, more solemnity, ect, but don’t by any means feel we’re lax in honoring God, or that we don’t take Him or His Word seriously. If that were the case, people wouldn’t bother with notes. (and a good many don’t, and still take it seriously. I’m just saying don’t judge by your feelings and experience)

Exactly. I just get up a little earlier now so that I can get my “fix” before I have to leave for Mass. :wink:

I think the point is that the atmosphere at my old church was very different altogether, but I can’t really say that it was “wrong”.

This all started because another poster went to a Catholic baptism and saw people bringing their coffee in and was scandalized by such irreverent behavior. I understand that to Catholics, it’s really upsetting to see someone with a beverage in their church, but it’s normative in other places.

I can understand people being upset or scandalized by doctrinal differences in other churches-denying the Trinity, the lack of sacraments and so on. I found the difference in the atmosphere jarring at first, but that wasn’t what made me go back to the Catholic Church. I returned during our study of the Gospel of John when I realized how much I missed the Eucharist. The lecture hall and rock concert atmosphere didn’t scandalize me at all.

Of course what they are doing isn’t wrong. It’s fantastic. But it isn’t worship, it’s education and entertainment. Worship matters too. And for some of these places, worship is defined as little more than singing to God with a gushy feeling in your heart.

The sacrifice of the Eucharist is worship. There’s nothing like that there.

I miss the note-taking. I did like that.

I went to a reformed Baptist church that operated that way–not the snacks in the sanctuary thing, but taking notes and going verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible (or an extended study of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, or perhaps a "lessons from the life of _______). Like SteveVH mentioned, it could take several years to get through a book.

But there is also much to be said for a liturgical service. I happen to prefer the traditional, one-year lectionary, and it’s nice to go through the church year with its changing themes and emphases. The sermon may not be as long, but the collects, introits, graduals, hymns, and scripture readings all go together with it to immerse you in the lesson. There are also numerous sources for sermons and lessons from all the weekly readings to get added insight throughout the week. If you haven’t checked out Lectionary Central yet, they have a great deal to offer.

As SteveVH said, there can always be a separate class to delve more deeply into a verse-by-verse study. As to the going without coffee, water, etc., I’m not sure how it works in most congregations, but I had thought that the usual expectation was that the elements taken during communion were to be the first things eaten or drank that day (exceptions being made for individual medical conditions, of course). That’s part of what makes the coffee and snacks after the service so welcome–people are really ready for something to eat and drink!

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