Rephrase the question please!

I was thinking this week about the common Christianese question, “What church do you go to?” For some reason this question has always irked me. Part of it is because what would happen if I didn’t go to church? I guess an awkward pause would be in order, and hopefully the discussion would progress towards the next round of (im)personal get-to-know-you questions (sorry for the sarcastic negativity, but too often this is how conversation is experienced)

However, what’s been bugging me lately is related more to the nature of the question itself, particularly with the word “go.” Perhaps it’s a sad indicator of how for many people church has become another commodity to be consumed. Just like we go to the movies, or go to a sporting event, we simply go to church. So when the question inevitably arises, we don’t even consider what’s being said. The danger is that church ends up being narrowly defined as the slot in my schedule where I go to a worship service at a particular time and place.

Ok, so this is the problem, but what now? I am not sure what the most appropriate alternative quesition would be. Perhaps it should be directed towards the aspect of church that implies sharing our lives with one another in a particular community, oriented around a common faith and approach to life?!? Now, I realize how rephrasing this question results in it being not quite as (im)personal as “what church do you go to,” but the only real ‘problem’ I see is that folks may actually start reconsidering what it means for them to go to church.

And in my opinion, this just may be a good thing…

(If anyone actually has a suggestion for an alternative question regarding church participation, I’m all ears… Who knows, you may just start the next trend for Christian cocktail discussion!)

3 comments:

Mike Todd said...

An alternative question? How about an adequate answer! In my case, the scenario goes something like this:

"I don't go to church."

Awkward silence.

Sp far I haven't had the courage to add:

"I'm too busy trying to figure out what it means to be the church."

dwark said...

Mike, that second comment is exactly what I am getting at...

Thanks!

Jonathan Janzen said...

The same question has bugged me. In the past couple of years I have started to ask, "Which church community are you a part of?" or "In which church community to you participate?"

I'm still not thoroughly satisfied. I keep playing with different phrases. I'll let you know when I find something better...

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