I Went to Baptist Church on Sunday

Since it was Mother's Day, I catered to my mom who wanted to attend Baptist church. I had forgotten my church clothes altogether, but she said it didn't matter what I wore, because everyone there wears jeans and t-shirts. So, my grandma, my mom, and I all drove into downtown Boise to attend church.

The parking lot was full, and the church was nestled among a little old neighborhood. The moment I walked in, the smell of coffee hit my like a ton of bricks. We entered on the lower level, and looked above us to see a landing that lead into the chapel. The architecture was modern, with lots of glass, metal, and fancy carpet. We went up the stairs. Casually dressed teenagers were chatting in a group, and families were putting their kids into the nursery nearby. In the chapel, people were turning and shaking the hands of their neighbors.

Mom: Oh good, we didn’t miss the meet and greet.

She led me over to the pastor to introduce us. He was shorter, probably in his late 40’s early 50’s, wore glasses, had tan skin and distinguished gray hair. He wore a light blue button up shirt, with rolled up sleeves, and khaki slacks. He wasn’t particularly good-looking, but he resembled maybe a car salesman. He shook my hand, and started up more conversation with my mom, who was ecstatic to be introducing us.

I jumped when the sound of drums resonated through the church. A band began playing an upbeat song. Upon closer inspection, I saw that there was a stage with a full band playing. Electric guitars, drums, microphones, the works… The giant silver organ was behind them, and above it was a projector screen with the words to the current song in a funky font. The woman singing looked almost identical to Carrie Underwood, and people were “gently” jamming out in the pews. We found a spot to sit, and my mom and grandma began clapping. I didn’t really know what to do, so I kind of swayed back and forth, smiling. I then lit my fake lighter and proceeded to hold it up, kind of as a joke. My mom and grandma had no problem copying me, and laughed.

All the while I’m thinking – Hey, this is pretty awesome. We need a sacrament meeting like this!

After two more songs…and 15 minutes of standing, we sat down and another Carrie Underwood-esque woman began to speak.

“It’s Mother’s Day, can I get an ‘Amen!’”

The church responded, “Amen!”

Her small introduction has us saying “Amen” at least twice more before Pastor Bob – or Joe – came up. He began to talk about the story in the Bible of the prophet Elijah, when God told him to go stay with this woman who wasn’t Christian. The point of the story was giving, or tithing. Mom broke out her “study” guide, where there was a list of reasons NOT to give, and the reasons they should be overcome. Here was a synopsis of the pastor’s talk (almost perfectly accurate too.)

“Did you know that rich people give less, and poor people give more? That’s how it always is. The rich give less percentage wise of what they have, and the poor give more of a percent of what they have. Only 2.4% of what people have is given to God. I knew someone that went to a church in (some middle eastern country), and they tithed regularly, no matter how poor they were. They weren’t Mormons, they were Christians….”

I stopped listening for a moment to remove the dagger he just stabbed into my chest. Ouch, man. Then I began thinking – wouldn’t this problem of giving be solved if everyone just gave 10 percent like the Bible says? Funny thing though, my mom and grandma’s tithing goes to the pastors salary, not the needy.

He continued, and I looked around at how quiet everything was. Ah, no kids, I realized. All the children and babies were in the nursery. (This is one thing that we need to do in our church.) The projector screen displayed the points of the pastor’s talk, and funky graphics to go along with it. After more singing and dancing, the sermon was over. While the whole thing was “fun” and the story was actually interesting, I was spiteful.

A few hours later at home, my best friend from elementary school came over, and as always, the topics of conversation were religion and politics. It’s a good thing we all agree politically (go Hillary!), but in our happy little mix was a Mormon, a Jew (my friend), a Baptist, and a Lutheran (Grandma). We are always able to talk about religion in a calm and cool way…without arguing. I tried to explain the degrees of heaven, the spirit world, etc… and surprisingly, none of them objected or argued.

My mom began talking about what she believed in and I was taken aback once again. She didn’t believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all one being. She believed they were all separate. I thought Baptists didn’t think that way, and only Mormons believed they were separate. She then began saying how she wants to live on the “new Earth” not on some “cloud” in the skies when she dies. She wanted to live on the terrestrial kingdom? She also said she believed that there was a “place” where everyone goes before they die, not to Heaven right away. I told her all about the spirit world and its purpose. She told me more about what she believed, and none of it conflicted with our teachings. Aside from her dependence on coffee and cigarettes. I found a segue and poured out the story of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and almost everything. After which she said:

“Okay, so say I believe all that. What if SATAN was actually doing all this? What if Satan was the one who inspired Joseph Smith and are leading all of you astray?”

I replied, “Why would Satan want us to be good people? He’s not inspiring us to go kill people. Mormons are known for being “good people,” so how can Satan really have anything to do with that?”

It all made sense to her. She didn’t say “Sign me up” or anything, but she understood surprisingly well. But I had to start my drive home, and didn’t have time to continue.

I think slowly, she will begin to understand. I want the missionaries to go over there, but I don’t want her to think I am trying to convert her. I just want her to understand more than anything else.

Here’s hoping!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this point:

He continued, and I looked around at how quiet everything was. Ah, no kids, I realized. All the children and babies were in the nursery. (This is one thing that we need to do in our church.)

I have a 2 year old, and believe me, by the end of sacrament we're both VERY ready for him to go to nursery...but I really think it's important for the little ones to be included in sacrament meeting. They may not understand 99% of what's being said, but they can feel the spirit. It's important for them to feel included in the church, and learn how to behave in sacrament meeting. (That being said, misbehaving children should be removed, no question.)

I have to say, my little guy does pretty well...he's only just turned 2 and he knows to fold his arms and be quiet for prayer, he knows to take only one piece of sacrament bread, and we can keep him quietly entertain himself in the pew most of the time.

April said...

Children need to be removed for the sake of the parents. Every single parent I have seen doesn't pay attention in church, but try to assure their children do. Attending to the kids during such an important time is a sad reality we are faced with.

Children should learn the importance of sacrament meeting, when they are ready to. This means when they are baptized at the age of 8, they should then be allowed to attend sacrament. Same thing with taking the bread and water. People who give them to their children under 8 are simply conditioning them to make it a habit. By having young children go to sacrament meeting and take the bread and water simply to make it a "habit" and condition the children to do both without thinking - it's defying the whole purpose of these sacred events.

Mormon Heretic said...

April,

I always enjoy your church experiences. Mine are so boring....If only I lived in Idaho, I'd definitely come to church with your family....It's definitely much more interesting than my ward.

I have a 3 and 5 year old, and I've just begun listening to sacrament talks again. I really wish there was a nursery, but I also understand "anonymous" comment. You've got to train kids to be reverent somewhere....Besides, with about 45 kids in the nursery, we're already overloaded....

April said...

When I went to baptist church, the few kids I saw were so reverent I didn't even know they were there! I think there would be no problem teaching the children to be reverent after 8 years old. It's not like we should be teaching them to scream and yell and jump around in nursery (or we shouldn't be). And yeah, nursery is already over-loaded. So make another one. Two nursery rooms at once! It's just way too hard to take sacrament seriously when there are screaming children, and their parents who must attend to them.

Mormon Heretic said...

April, my ward already has 3 nurseries. We're having a hard time finding people to staff them, because everybody wants to get away from their own kids, not be stuck with everyone else's kids. (My wife was nursery leader, and I substituted often, for all the flaky members who just decided not to show up, and not tell anybody.)

April said...

Oooh, that's another thing I hate. Why are Mormons so flaky? I show up five minutes early and I'm the first one there to any meeting. My only LDS professor was the most inconsistent, late, absent, person at the U of I. (Still my favorite though. He was awesoeme.) Our bishop(s) miss meetings all the time.

So yes, I see your point. Hmm, maybe we should stop having 14 kids each. That would sure solve some problems.

Mormon heretic said...

LOL!!!

I did have a funny experience a while back. We went to San Diego for my brother's wedding at the temple there. Sunday morning, we figured we would just drive around until we found a mormon church.

When we got there, we came inside, and discovered it was a Spanish ward! There were about 15 people there (including us) at the start of sacrament meeting. We had some missionaries and members of the bishopric offer to translate for us, but we declined, and decided just to feel the spirit. We were planning on leaving after the sacrament anyway.

So the meeting started, the bishop is making some announcements, and the congregants are standing up, hugging each other, and generally paying no attention to the bishop. This went on for the entire announcements, and continued after the opening prayer! When the sacrament was passed, there was now about 50 people there. By the end of the sacrament, the chapel was nearly full.

Talk about showing up late for the meeting!!!! My nephew is on a mission in Guatemala, and he said that sounds just like his church meetings.....

Oh, and our ward is so big, if you show up 5 minutes early, you're in the gym (which is usually where we sit.) On fast Sunday, there were 5 baby blessings, so the church was especially jam packed. People who came late couldn't find a seat, and just went home instead... And I still don't understand why the stake president doesn't want to split our ward. Yes we just split 6 months ago (we've split 3 times in 4 years), but still.... The last time we split, it didn't seem like anybody actually left the ward....

April said...

That's hilarious!

Yeah, we usually sit in the gym too. But I think it's because we don't know anyone well enough to sit next to them yet.

You seriously need some people to suck it up and go to the other ward. Frick....

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