I haven't been going to Church as much as I would like to recently. Between trips to Norfolk to my friend's boat, Sunday morning rehearsals, Sunday afternoon concerts and late Saturday nights it feels like a while since I have been. Of course today is the most important day of the Christian calendar so I made a special effort, I got up in plenty of time had my shower and a decent breakfast before setting off on the short walk up the road for the eleven O'clock service. Only to get there and find that they had a ten O'clock service today! By then it was too late for any of my other local churches who all have services at 10:30 or 10:00.
I understand that many of my trans brothers and sisters find it very difficult to find a Church where they are accepted, I rejoice to say that this has not been a problem for me. Since being rejected by the Church I was formally very involved in I have been accepted by every Church I have been to. Accepted but not always comfortable. Since moving I have been committed to the idea that I should worship in the community in which I live, and further that the congregation should look like my neighbours.
Recently I have been attending a local Church which seemed to fit the bill, yet...…. As a musician I have a couple of issues with the worship, the prime one is that the PA is all too often turned up far too loud ~ bearing in mind that I play both the electric bass and the bass trombone I am clearly not one to flinch from a few decibels. The problem is two fold,
- When the volume is too high it turns the worship leader into a performer, the congregation becomes an audience and individual members become reluctant to join in and sing, instead of communal worship we get a performance ~ and few worship leaders are technically good enough to be performers!
- The PA is simply not powerful enough. As a general principle even if the amp does go up to eleven it is rarely a good idea to take it above 5! In simple terms the combination of small speakers, amplifier turned up to eleven and amateur operators leads to feedback and distortion. I for one find this uncomfortable at best, much of the time painful! It is certainly enough to distract me from my own worship, and that is the opposite of the purpose, worship leading should be just that, leading the congregation into worship.
This may seem trivial but it is enough to make me uncomfortable and distract me, where I have been able to I have often attended the earlier morning service simply to avoid the PA! At various times I have emailed this Church and failed to receive a reply, on another occasion I dropped in a completed card asking about membership ~ I have received replies to none. They claim they want to be a radical expression of faith in the community, yet they fail to communicate, there was nothing on the website about the change in service times. I feel strongly that what ever we offer to God, whether it be worship, service or physical offering it should be the best we have, and I'm sorry to say that this Church is falling short.
It greaves me as the preaching is good, there are some good people there, and I initially felt welcomed, now I'm not so sure that I am really wanted, or indeed that they can walk the walk as well as they talk the talk.
The other Church I attended when I first moved here was again welcoming, but I never quite felt comfortable there, and some of the singing from the leaders was so poor it again distracted me from my own worship ~ I wonder should I maybe give them another chance.
After all no man (or woman) is an island, I need the support, fellowship and communal worship that can only come from being part of a Church. I will be honest, I also miss being part of a PA team, a worship band, and respected as a theologian. I worry how much of this is about me and my ego as much as the expression of being Church.