We arrive. We go through the door and see peoples faces. They look politely at us
and smile but do not speak. We go to the doors and they are closed; we must be early so we wait in the lobby. Sitting. People are there. As Trent escapes to the restroom a gentleman speaks and shakes his hand, I remember he met this man last week. Trent sits. We wait.

The doors open and we file in with others into the auditorium. The
woman at the door hands us a card and doesn't speak, only smiles. We find
our seats. We wait. As I am looking, processing, taking it all in I think,
this is a big place, my next thought... much bigger than needed. Too
bad. I see couples appear and find their seats. Larger groups of
people come in and find their seats. I imagine each processing: will we
fit, will we be comfortable with this view, this is a good place and they
sit. A man comes in to the row in front of us and goes all the way to the
end, alone. I am sad but think to myself, maybe he likes being by
himself. A single woman comes in and finds her seat a bit further down,
she too slides all the way down the aisle. She is alone, and I am sad
because I wouldn't want to be alone. People chatting with their own people
they are sitting with. No interaction, just waiting. On the screen
in front of us there is promotion and information for us to read while we wait
for the show to begin. It's weird coming to an event like this, so
many people, from so many backgrounds, all coming to a place for the same
reason, yet there isn't a connection. This was church...

I tell you it was a surreal experience no doubt. A necessary experience because as you slip into a church you don't know, you see what others there don't see. I was one of those people once; who thought my church was great, and so welcoming and just hit people where they are! Which was true in this case, but sadly it broke my heart. I was humbled because I had come to worship with a body of believers in a style that I am more comfortable with (more about where we have been attending and what that has been like later). I needed to rock out a bit and sing loudly to God. As I sang and praised God I was shocked that we seemed to be the only people "touched" by the music. Lifted hands, praising, clapping... Surely not, I closed my eyes and spoke to God. Again, I looked out over the congregation and I felt like I wanted to shout "Do you believe it?"

We sang:

Oh happy day
Happy day
You wash my sin away
Oh happy day
Happy day
I'll never be the same
Forever I am changed Steve Fee - Happy Days lyrics

It was seemingly not a happy day to most present. But the worship band was amazing.

We sing on and I try to push the thoughts and I pray, I pray over the people that they will see, feel, experience God. Now, know that there are people that are worshipping and no doubt being changed and loving this time with God. I know! But as a whole, of God's people, stuck, stumped... and the kicker for me was when we sang on of my favorite songs by Charlie Hall - Marvelous Light! Wow! The worship leader explained how this was a prayer and he opens. We sing:

I once was fatherless,
a stranger with no hope;
Your kindness wakened me,
Awakened me, from my sleep

Your love it beckons deeply,
a call to come and die.
By grace now I will come
And take this life, take your life.

Sin has lost it's power,death has lost it's sting.
From the grave you've risen...VICTORIOUSLY!

Into marvelous light I'm running,
Out of darkness, out of shame.
By the cross you are the truth,You are the life, you are the way!

We are loving it, the congregation however is not greatly moved. It is coming to one of my favorite parts of the song and the worship leader stops. Just music playing in the background, he pauses to talk and explain and he asks the congregation to place their right hand over their heart, and to offer their left hand up to God and he says the lyrics. So deep so meaningful to me...

My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I'm free. now I'm free!

{music builds-more intense}
and I look, I look around and hardly ANYONE lifting their arm, clutching their dead heart, and I think is it me? What as a community are we doing to people that this is the faith and hope, and desire to worship God. A leader can't even instruct and get participation, I say I am broken hearted, for myself too. I think, if I were here, and I did not believe as I do, did not claim the name of Jesus, I would NOT believe there was ANY power in these words we were singing. No hope in these people, no different than going to a movie. Tears come...

My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I'm free. now I'm free!

My next favorite part of the song is coming and I can't wait "lift my hands and spin around" I think in my head and then music play... I thought for a moment "what if they don't play it" what if they skip that part, we don't deserve to sing it, and then it comes:

Lift my hands and spin around,
See the light that I have found.
Oh the marvelous light
Marvelous light

I think do I dare spin around, I am frozen but my hands are lifted and in my heart I am spinning. 2 other people that I notice are lifting their hands too. I'm sad. and waiting.

Lift my hands and spin around,
See the light that I have found.
Oh the marvelous light
Marvelous light

I decided, slash, "felt" strongly, that I couldn't leave here and not share with the leadership of this church what I observed. A captain of a ship can not see everything and needs his crew to notify him of observations. "Iceberg! Captain, iceberg ahead!" I have experienced devastation in the life of church and vowed that I would not sit idly by and allow devastation to come without doing my part as God led. Now, receipt and delivery are a different story. If you know me delivery will only come as a continued leading from God and with the authority of my husband (we are praying about this now).

I am taking notes in my book about what I am feeling, as the pastor comes and he introduces the message which is titled "With All My Heart" notable that Valentine's Day was just the day before, nice. So, he introduces the text from the bible he will be sharing, Matthew 25, a parable about talents... What?-Trent and I stop, look at one another, I smile, and I jot down on the side of my notebook "but the message hits us right where we are" phenomenal "God thing" I'm thinking. Trent had discussed this parable this week, God illuminated it to him and he shared through tears what God had been showing him and here, now, in a church that we just came to worship-we are going to hear more. Great! I stop my train of thought about the letter to the pastor to listen.

He tells the parable, gives some background, and just when I think it is going to get meaty... he turns the message into an upcoming 2 year anniversary thank you to the church. Blech! He stood there humble, and I believe truly grateful, but I felt like he was feeding a load of fluff, pat yourselves on the back, junk to this congregation, and it made me sick. Sad sick, the broken hearted kind. They went from 8 to 80 giving families. Praise the Lord, and...They collected $500 to build a well to give clean water at Christmastime. They helped an urban family rebuild after some devastation... ALL GOOD THINGS! But to me these are not special events and only a few to mention they are the HEART of what we should be doing always. $500 for water-in a church that size that should be a regular amount given--could the pastor do without $500 of his salary so that people could have clean water? Could they find a smaller, cheaper place to do church so they could help more people? One Sunday could they meet in a parking lot to save the rent on the "arts center" so they could give clean water, or whatever need there is at the time? No, because church is a show... I typed that so slow, because I didn't want to type it and I more so don't want it to be true. The pastor claimed that the church is broke, "a good kind of broke" he said-he maintained a very positive air at all times. I was sick, the I have to do something about it kind.

In closing, I know demonstrative worship, and lifting of hands is not "the" sign of true worship; some of my deepest times of worship have been sitting down, head bowed, unable to sing...glorious times with God! You would have to know my heart, which many reading this do not know me; so I recognize this could be being received the wrong way. My heart would be to build up the church by sharing my experience so the leadership can be aware and charge others to "be on alert". We often don't realize the broken people that slip into our churches. If the congregation can't recognize visitors, doesn't speak to members, how would they be able to meet a broken person, believer or not, where they are?

When God's house becomes a theater and His Word becomes twisted into fluff, and His people are content to be beautiful, whitewashed tombs... What sorrow awaits.

I was reluctant to post this, but I post it in faith, believing that God will use it to His glory. It was one experience, by one family, on one day at one church; but unfortunately, it is all too common a tale. We may go this week and have a totally different experience. But this experience, left me WAITING for something more!

So we are waiting. Actively, prayerfully waiting.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1