by Charlotte O
To be completely honest, attending Chinese church in Taiwan is a struggle, and for my first few years, sometimes felt like a sacrifice, or worse, a waste of my time.
The small group model seems to work well for many, and it is a wonderful thing to be able to have resources to help those in need, to provide for leaders, and much more.
The Biblical mandate includes things like keeping the Sabbath and setting apart a day for God, corporate worship, prayer, prophesy, fellowship, accountability and even discipline, and remembering the sacrifice of our Saviour through communion.
But do these things have to happen on Sunday morning? Do they have to happen in a certain building? Why do we need committees, building projects, and so many rules?
Figuring Out Why You’re There
Maybe you’re an introvert who loves the prayer but dreads the post-service small talk. Maybe you’re a musician who wants to grow in your knowledge of the Bible but is extremely sensitive to people singing off-key in the worship team (it’s probably me, I’m sorry), maybe you’re a retired professor who endures fluffy seeker-oriented sermons because you want to serve your community. Maybe you’re married to someone who works at a church that wouldn’t be your first choice to attend. Maybe you’re a 22-year old from Canada who doesn’t understand a word of Chinese, but who knows you’re expected to attend the church that is supporting your ministry project. How often did I (and do I still) feel like the ‘unspiritual’ missionary because I don’t want to attend more services than I have to, because my mind wanders halfway through a sermon, because I know that there are so many places I’d rather be, and that sometimes I’m just there so that my name will be checked off on the attendance box (have I ever mentioned that Taiwanese churches take attendance?). To be completely honest, attending Chinese church in Taiwan is a struggle, and for my first few years, sometimes felt like a sacrifice, or worse, a waste of my time.
I know that he is working both inside and outside the walls of the church, but I am convicted of the fact that He wants me to be a part of what he’s doing in the church community where I am. So that’s what I do.
Fortunately, God did convict me on that issue though a very simple comment given by the secretary of the church where I lived for 8 months (so many hilarious stories there… Like this one (short) and this one (longer)). This was toward the end of my second year in Taiwan, and she was asking me how much of the sermons I could understand. I confessed that it was a little more or less than half depending on the topic. And she said, “Well, you are still offering your time to God.” And there it was. Because that’s what I should have been doing. What I could have been doing. But instead I was feeling sorry for myself and counting the minutes until lunchtime. If that was my offering, I was sure God wasn’t interested in it. So I really was wasting my time, because I was refusing to give it to God by having such a bad attitude about it. Since then, I have come to what is a (hopefully) much healthier approach, though as I said before, I STILL don’t have all the answers, but I do believe that God wants me to be in church most Sundays, and so I obey. I know that he is working both inside and outside the walls of the church, but I am convicted of the fact that He wants me to be a part of what he’s doing in the church community where I am. So that’s what I do.
So assuming you do want to be a part of a church community, how do you do so when there seem to be expectations at every turn? Check out Part 2 of this series as Jen VanSteenbergen gives her thoughts on this topic.
CONNECT WITH US
SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL
Privacy: We hate spam as much as you, so we will never share your e-mail address with anyone.
SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOGS RSS FEED
AND GET ARTICLE UPDATES