If ever I got things backwards or out of order, my dad would say, "that's bass ackwards"...the implication obviously being that my actions or plans went against a normal or expected sequence of events. This past Sunday I think my wife and I were bass ackwards but in a good way.
Don't gasp or faint but I actually went and sat through an entire institutionalized church service. We didn't go to just any "church" either...we went to the largest church in the state of Alabama. Just this one worship time has cars backed up on the interstate and parking reminded me more of a sporting event than a place where believers of God were gathering to enrich their walks with God. We entered near the kids wing of the monstrous building and checked them in to the computerized security system and eventually found their class rooms and handed their teachers the digital printout explaining their names, DOB, potty training status...I think I saw blood type, previous medical information and mother's maiden name listed somewhere on the form. From there we walked past the in-house Starbucks...I kid you not, into the stadium-I mean auditorium. A band that looked more like a Pearl Jam setup than David with his harp was entertaining everyone and fortunately one of our friends found us and lead us to our seats in section J, row 43, seats 11 and 12.
Finally the super-pastor emerged under the sparkles of the spotlight...his incredibly white teeth momentarily blinded me when the spotlight bounced off of them and maybe burned my retina. And then the whole reason we were there happened. A family in our small-group had invited us to the dedication of their one year old.
The night before I was left with a dilemma...attend the antithesis of almost everything I hold dear within the kingdom of God and honor our brother and sister in the Lord or take a stand, not attend this mega-church and possibly offend our friends. As much as I didn't want to go I knew from the beginning that we were required to model what Jesus taught. Relationships always trump personal preference...people always win out over comfort.
So what is so bass ackwards about that whole scenario? I hear so many people say that they attend church to find a community. I think so many think that church is where faith happens and you foster relationships there that hopefully carry over into our everyday lives. Well, for us it is the other way around. We have "community" and we simply attended this church to deepen our relationships...not to find them. We went to this place not to get closer to God but to get closer to people who walk with us in our journey toward God. To many that may seem bass ackwards from the norm...to me, I just call it a new direction within the Kingdom of God as I experience it.
So was it worth it? Would I ever go back to that place again under similar circumstances? When it comes to honoring our fellow travelers on this spiritual journey and when it comes to fostering deeper relationships within what I consider our church...absolutely, I will go every time I am asked to do that.