Monday, May 16, 2005

Chips Ahoy drove me to Anglicanism.

Well, not me actually. That’s the interesting testimony an Anglican friend told me the other Sunday.

He played in the worship band at a large evangelical church (one which hasn’t been mentioned on this blog). One Sunday, they were having communion when they ran out of crackers. So the servers grabbed some Chips Ahoy cookies and used those.

As he received his Chips Ahoy, he was provoked, knowing that just wasn’t right. He told me he knew then and there that he needed to move to a more reverent, more sacramental church. And he eventually found an Anglican one.

A commenter on this blog had a similar experience:

I am not a theological hairsplitter by nature and won't ever be. I'm not sure what you would call my understanding of the Real Presence. Maybe I am just one of those "is means is" types. What I do know for sure is that the breaking point with [a previous] church was the day when they distributed communion as an afterthought, like a snack, at the doors after a night service. No prayers, no preparation. I just knew then that it was just too important a thing to pay lip service to. If you think its important then you should treat it as such. I knew that I had to find a church with reverence for Body & Blood of Jesus no matter how they understood it.

And she’s now a happy member of an Anglo-Catholic parish.

I find it interesting that the treatment of communion played such a pivotal role in driving both to Anglican churches.

Communion has always been handled reverently at my previous churches. (Well, I can think of one exception at Big Dallas Bible, two churches ago. But there’s no need to revisit that.) So that wasn’t a factor in my move.

What was a factor was my growing dissatisfaction with worship consisting almost exclusively of singing a number of songs in a row, then listening to a sermon. The sermons were great, but the singing got tiresome. I thought, isn't there more to worship than singing? And my throat often can’t handle a lot of non-stop singing well. Then when my previous church persistently had us standing for more and more of the singing time –- often more than 15 minutes (My legs have never handled that well.) and when the lead vocalist’s voice was always overamped, hurting my ears and drowning out a usually excellent band (in spite of my twice telling the music leader afterwards there was a problem), I really got tired of it. It became a hindrance to worship. For a while there, I even made a point to show up to church late so I wouldn’t have to endure too much of the worship time.

Yeah, I know. Probably not the best way to handle things. But that’s how unhappy I was with the worship.

Now in other respects, I was quite happy with my church, and it is excellent. So I wasn’t at all seeking another church until I knew I would be moving. Then when I visited Christ Church Plano, I was overwhelmed with how excellent the worship was. And, although I wasn’t at all unhappy with how communion was done at my church, I did appreciate how reverently and prayerfully it was handled at Christ Church. And you know the rest of the story – from Bible Churcher to Wannabe Anglican to Newbie Anglican.

I think most evangelical churches would do well to note the small but significant evangelical exodus to Anglicanism and rethink how they worship. I’m not saying every church needs to have the liturgy, ceremony, and traditional music I’ve come to love. But God and his people deserve better than overamped singing marathons every Sunday and Chips Ahoy.

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