I’ve been pondering the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, along with Jesus’ words inMatthew 22:36-40 emphasizing that the two greatest commandments are loving God heart, soul, and mind; and loving my neighbor as myself. My husband and I have been part of many different kinds of churches – large, small, formal, informal, focused on preaching, focused on sung and prayed worship, focused on the sacraments. As I reflect on my experience, it has occurred to me more than once since I’ve been a part-time seminary student that the churches we’ve attended have attempted (with varying degrees of success on both their part and mine) to teach me how to love God with my heart, soul and strength. They’ve attempted to strengthen and support me in the vocation of loving my neighbor.
But I’ve never been quite sure how most of these churches have attempted to help their members love God with their minds.
When a church tries too hard to be like a classroom – say, during corporate worship services when the sermon is a 45-minute long lecture that vaguely resembles a research paper because its filled with Greek word studies, quotes from seven different commentaries, and a Spiderman movie reference – it usually loses a measure of its unique identity as a worshipping community. [Read more]