Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine most Christians getting too carried away having a good time together. Church is an adjunct to professional and familial communities. We get up on Sunday, drive, park, sit, listen, sing, pray, chat, and go home. Even if we’re involved in a small group, the relationships are usually secondary. —Why is Church so Dull?
I have a lot of sympathy for the “emergent Church” folks. They are exasperated with the current state of liturgics, Christian community, and theology. Of course, I also disagree with most of their proposed solutions, which seem to involve making the community even more ambiguous, the liturgics more flabby, and the theology increasingly vague. When I read articles like Why is Church so Dull? I am likewise sympathetic. The church I’ve been going to these past five months does have the community not-dull thing going on, as have most American Orthodox churches I’ve been to. Actually, all, but that’s only about five. But it’s very time-intensive. We have three hours of church followed by lunch every week, an evening service daily, a book study, and a theology class weekly, and a bunch of other things that happen to come up, like monastery visits, holidays (of which there are a goodly number), charity stuff, and other outings. But, as is obvious, this involves a good deal of time and energy from the majority of the congregation. It takes perhaps twenty hours a week of Christianity related activity, in fact. I can do that because I’m a student at present. Others do it in greater or lesser degrees, depending on enthusiasm and other commitments. This is the only way I’ve observed of being liturgically and theologically sound, while also building community: by spending a bunch of time together and also having a bunch of services together. Of course, Holy Trinity is a bit on the far end of things as far as participation. But it does remain the case that community can be fostered without compromising teaching or liturgy by simply providing constant, regular opportunities to spend time together both in and out of service. And by having enthusiastic members willing to spend that much time together.