So, through a trip to a church that I haven’t been to before (Faith Presbyterian Church in the Killarney neighborhood of Vancouver), God is teaching me to seek Him first, and not the ‘cool’ Christian culture that evangelicalism of recent years have manufactured. Here, I’ll explain.
For various reasons, I decided to try out a different church. I, through a series of Google searches and conversations and thoughts last night, decided to try Faith Presbyterian Church, a church in the Presbyterian Church in America denomination. The denomination is Reformed and evangelical, but this church was quite traditional in manner. Worship was done with hymns, and the church was a nondescript building with the massive sanctuary space filled with folding chairs, with a simple wooden pulpit at the front, next to the organ and other musical instruments for worship.
Now, one flaw in my being is that I’m used to cultural trappings of the faith to the point that I find myself, at times, more attracted to this than the gospel itself. Through a series of realizations (including my sister in Christ Maci Shingleton’s astoundingly amazing post on Hipster Christianity), I decided last night that on my trip to Faith Vancouver, I would focus on the core of the faith. This core is Jesus. We don’t worship a cool rock-ish worship band, we don’t worship casual styles of dress and preaching that’s meant to reach out to secular culture (though these are good things, absolutely). We worship Jesus. We embrace the gospel, which is the simple reality of what Jesus came and did and all the implications that flow from that. And that simple reality affects everything and everyone.
So, my trip to Faith Vancouver was quite lovely. Lovely worship, lovely teaching, and most definitely lovely people. What stood out to me was how the focus was on Jesus – not on big theatrics or whatever (though I’m certainly not condemning churches that do choose to do that, so long as those things don’t eclipse Jesus in their ministry), but just a simple worship from theologically-rich hymns, the reading of God’s word interspersed throughout the service, and rock solid teaching from the Scriptures.
What am I getting at here, though? That I think God is trying to tell me, to impress upon me, “Hey, you need to focus on me. Would you still love me as much if I sent you to a poverty-stricken area where your work for me was daily Bible reading, prayer, and painstaking work helping those around you with absolutely no Internet or trappings of First World culture or wealth around you?” And that’s a rock solid question to ask, and it’s something we should all ask ourselves. This lesson happened to be impressed upon me by attending a church I wouldn’t usually go to, where all the styles and trappings that I’m used to and attracted to aren’t present. And it works. Because the core of Faith Vancouver, just as the core of all Jesus-loving churches, isn’t the worship band or anything like that – it’s Jesus. And praise be to God for that reality, that beautiful saving reality.
I also must note something. I don’t wish to convey the idea that I’m using this church solely for my own spiritual fulfillment, merely taking without giving anything back. Such an approach would be genuinely and rightly offensive to the people that pour their time, hearts and money into that gospel community. I’m unsure if it’ll end up as my home church, but if it does, I’ll see what I can do to give back and do my part in the church’s mission, as practiced in Faith Vancouver. And even so, I definitely plan to keep this church and its ministry in my prayerlife indefinitely, regardless of whether I continue attending or not.