I grew up in church. Most of the churches I attended were proper and well organized. They followed a structure that was almost liturgical. It must also be said that the churches of my youth were welcoming and supportive. All things considered, they were good places to grow.
In the Undiscovered Country, chaos is the liturgy.
When I entered the Undiscovered Country, I experienced an entirely new culture. Services were spontaneous. Several times I was selected to sing special music on the spot. People in the congregation yelled out song selections. Jokes were told. laughter was abundant. At times it felt more like a family gathering than a religious service.
That’s how things work in the Undiscovered Country. Most people here never experienced church growing up. They don’t know how things are supposed to work. Instead, we bumble along as best as we can.
The single biggest adjustment from my childhood experience is the language. Swearing was expressly forbidden in my upbringing. It certainly never profaned the hallowed walls of the church.
Here, swear words are as common as dandelions. Occasionally, they force their way into our gatherings. One Sunday morning, the youth class was disrupted by a hooker outside the window. She was standing in the middle of the street, swearing at her John, accusing him of not paying for services rendered. When I asked her to considered our class, she was very apologetic. Five minutes later she was once again swearing at the top of her lungs.
Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn’t always stay outside. We had a woman attend we’ll call Nell. She suffered from manic depression. About every six months she would grow especially agitated. During my sermons, she’d stand up and shout at me, telling me to (blank) myself. Then she’d storm out.
At the next service she’d come back and apologize profusely. Though I came to expect it, I never entirely got used to being cursed as I spoke.
Structure might be difficult to create here, but there is something from my past experience I strive to recreate. It’s the warmth of a welcoming and supportive spiritual family. I want to provide a good place for people to grow spiritually.
Cultures may change, life may be orderly or chaotic, but Christ can be found in the most remarkable places.
In a country that knows chaos as it’s liturgy, Christ is still waiting to be found.
That’s culture in the Undiscovered Country.