Occasionally, I'll visit one of my old non-denominational church websites to check on their latest venture. It never fails to amaze me how the scene changes constantly. If it's not the addition of a new building, or a new service, it's the addition of a new approach or strategy. Some of you already know the gist of what I will say, based on some of my previous posts.
But I can't help but repeat it: I am so glad I am a part of the Catholic Church. So, so, sooo glad.
One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is that our "strategy," (to use a modern church term) was determined centuries ago, by the words of Jesus Christ: Go out into all the world and make disciples. He didn't say, "Create new programs that will need to be totally overhauled every year and tweaked into perpetuity." He also didn't say, "Keep everyone's calendars as busy as possible because I'd rather have you burned out than rusted out!"
The non-denominational church and recently, the trendy "Emerging Church" are both needlessly expending effort where none is really required. Church should be simple. You gather in one spot to sing hymns, meditate on the Gospel, share Communion, fellowship a bit and then leave -- to go into the world to be a witness for Christ.
If you've never been a part of a non-denominational church, I can attest to the this rock-solid fact: you have no idea how busy life is until you join such a church and then "become active." That phrase, "becoming active" is actually deceiving. It's more "allow the church to consume your life to the point where you have no other life." Sure, there are some who have placed very firm boundaries and told various department heads "Thanks, but no thanks. I am unable to lead the choir/Bible study group/children's ministry," but most people, when they get involved, feel it is their duty to do such things; much to the detriment of their own home life and sanity. Being active is good, but allowing oneself to say "yes" to every need in a church is not.
It has been twenty years since my old non-denominational church began and it is still in its "development" phase. It is still planning and changing for the umpteenth time the way they "do church." It is still working on yet another strategy for reaching out to the neighborhood. The small home groups are still struggling, not one of them seeming to last more than two or three years before another leader needs to be found and more members recruited.
Some Christians wonder what the appeal is of the Catholic Church. Apart from the historical precedence, some may look at it and think, "What do they really do? They attend Mass and that seems to be about it." But there is so much more. For instance, many Catholics enjoy a rich interior life because we're not running around from one high-speed event to the another.
The other aspect of the Catholic devotional life is that we have daily prayers to ground us. We have the Divine Office, where there are set prayers for morning, afternoon, and evening. We have special prayers for special occasions. These types of devotions have existed for a long, long time and give many Catholics a strong foundation. We don't have to re-invent the wheel because Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints already did it. We don't have to create a new strategy with every passing season because we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Canon Law, and the Magisterium; who already have done it.
All of that history leaves Catholics the opportunity to follow tradition and not spend incredible amounts of time in "planning sessions" to come up with the next new approach for "doing church."
If you're someone who can relate to this, and you've not thought seriously about Catholicism, I ask you to really consider it. You may be amazed by the depth of spirituality you will experience without all the hyper-activity. It truly is a blessing.