Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Presbyterian Part 2

Yesterday I posted two things that I found interesting from the Sunday School class we just took. One was about the organization and decision-making authority in churches and the other was about the emphasis on mercy in the Presbyterian church.

Something else Pastor Charlie taught in the first class really gave me a clearer perspective of Christian denominations. He said that Christian churches generally have 3 main emphases:

Will: to obey God's rules
Mind: seek to understand
Heart: devotion; emotional

All Christian churches incorporate aspects of all three. Most, however, emphasize one more than the other two. (Or maybe two more than the third.) A church that hits hard on the will is typically Catholic or Episcopal. They follow the rules and the rites as they have traditionally been followed. Their faithfulness comes through obedience.

A church that emphasizes the heart might typically be Pentecostal or Baptist. Though Pentecostals would be more emotional, both place great importance on the heart. This is my background. I am used to services that draw me in emotionally. We sing songs that connect with my life and my soul. We feel the tug of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We are faithful as we examine the condition of our hearts.

A church that emphasizes the mind seeks to understand through study and Scripture. This is very much the Presbyterian church. They have a long history of starting schools and colleges. They are a learned group of people and believe strongly in the importance of education. They seek direction by studying Scripture. They are faithful through seeking to understand.

That entire explanation was important to me because it explained why I often feel so detached in our worship services. The leadership isn't emphasizing an emotional connection. They don't ask for it and they don't attempt to create it. This is so different for me. To have so little be about the heart, leaves me feeling as if something is missing. Now I understand why.

Saturday I shared some of this with a friend and I was so encouraged to hear her say that she understood my dilemma completely...but in reverse. She was raised in churches that emphasize the mind. Attending churches with a heart focus for the last 8 years or so has been somewhat challenging. The emotional connection doesn't come as easy for her.

None of these are right or wrong. Ideally, I suppose, we'd want to have all three aspects equally represented. The will to obey, with its traditions and familiar rituals. The mind, searching for knowledge and understanding through study and Scripture. And the heart, an emotional connection with our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Which aspects (will, mind, and heart) do you recognize as important to your church? Is there one that seems to dominate or one that is less apparent?

1 comment:

gail said...

hi julie---
i love this post of yours! it explains so much. i've been frustrated at my church and now i know why---i don't feel the emotional tug i like in the other churches we've been in. i'm going to have to show this to my hubby. i read your other post about your denomination and found it quite enlightening.

hugs, gail