Tag Archives: church

91: Kids and Church | Belief vs Understanding

In this episode John and Gregg resume their discussion about church attendance, this time regarding children. John starts by wondering about Gregg’s process in allowing his children to make choices about where to attend church, and also about the difference between teaching our children to believe Christianity, versus to understand (life, and so Christianity).

Gregg explains that it would have seemed deceptive (to his children) if he and his spouse tried to force their children to approach Christianity in a way different from how the two of them were approaching it (i.e., by not allowing them to make at least some of their own decisions, such as where they wanted to attend). Gregg see this as allowing the children to have some information (about Christianity) yet also standing back a bit and allowing Christian experience (and particularly the experience of God) to “unfold” in his children’s lives.

So Gregg hunches that a big reason for the children wanting to come to the church that he and his spouse play is that large role that they saw this church (and especially, Christianity) playing in their parents coming back together after many months of marital separation.

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90: How to Decide on Church

During this episode John and Gregg again discuss church attendance, especially as their earlier conversation on this topic generated much feedback from listeners.

John continues to grapple with the notion that one may abstain from going to church, the more so as he tracks with one of our listener’s who has also pressed pause” on church attendance. John notes that importance of reconsidering what church-going is about, despite the pressure that one is “supposed to” attend and that things might “go wrong” if one doesn’t.

John remains quite concerned about how his current lack of church-attendance will affect his son. Yet he emphasizes that his integrity (in abstaining from church until he has a better understanding of why he would attend and the value of attending is more apparent) and living out that integrity in his family, and to his son, is more important than attending church in the hope that he “ensures his son goes to heaven.”

John summarizes: he cannot educate his son to do and believe something that he cannot do (and does not believe).

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89: Do I Have to Go to Church?

In this episode John and Gregg discuss listener Stephanie’s question: “Is it possible to have an authentic Christian experience without going to church?”

Gregg is enthusiastic that Stephanie developed this conversation in the Untangling Christianity private FaceBook group. He comments on the role of “obedience” in terms of going to church, noting that Hebrews 10:24-5 tends to be cited as “command” to Christians to attend church. Gregg summarizes the greater context of the end of the book of Hebrews by indicating that the focus is on who Jesus is, what Jesus has accomplished (bringing in the new covenant), and what this means for Jews relative to the first covenant.

However, Gregg is wary of finding a harmful circularity in this situation. He explains this by noting that if many Christians equate church attendance with being “obedient to God,” then this means obedience in what sense / to what? In other words, what is the greater cause to which Christians are beholden? And where the reply is often something like: “to be Christ-like,” Gregg would ask the same question: to what end / for what reason?
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88: Church Isn’t Working

In this episode John and Gregg discuss an article from Relevant magazine, concerning an interview with Rachel Held Evans on how Millennials feel alienated from most church settings, and are looking for a committed community rather than for a church with “the right” programs or music.

John notes, despite not being in the Millennial age bracket, that for a long time he’s had similar feelings to Rachel’s. He explains that the worship music has never been that important to him and that he too feels more comfortable in the Episcopal church.

Where the article also focuses on church attendance declining, John notes that when his lack of church attendance comes up with others he is most often asked simply whether he is attending (and never about the deeper, more causal issues such as how he’s thinking or feeling about God, where he is in terms of his spiritual journey, etc.). Yet he finds this line of questioning assumes too much, such as that if you’re attending a church then it must be a good one (or good enough) and that ‘truth’ is being spoken there.
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86: Easter

Today we discuss Easter. John characterizes Easter from his past as a moment of rejoicing that Jesus’ resurrection means that Christians have eternal life. He wonders what significance Easter holds for Gregg?

Gregg’s view is that Easter is about how Jesus’ life and death broke down barriers, particularly in the sense that through Jesus’ life and death all humanity was / is now able to be in right relationship with God. Gregg sees this as somewhat similar to his own experience of Good Friday in Switzerland, in 1996.

Gregg goes on to highlight the importance of understanding the continuity of the Easter story with the larger story of Israel (and how often it seems that evangelical presentations are sadly discontinuous with this story, and so seem fragmented as a result). In other words, from Gregg’s perspective the story of Jesus at Easter only actually makes sense within the context of Israel’s story, and otherwise Easter often amounts either to a “guilt trip” about either to be joyful or to be ecstatic about the idea of external life.
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