Monday, August 25, 2014

Meaning in Church

I put a lot of emphasis on meaning-making, for better or for worse. My heart feels at home with Viktor Frankl's logotherapy orientation, focused on meaning as the way to deal with psychological problems. And I pursued a career in psychology because I saw it having more meaning for me than other paths. So this will start a little series on reflections on meaning.

Most people would agree a major component of church and religion is to contribute to meaning. But how does it contribute to meaning? Does everyone even want meaning from church or its analogues?

When people think of church, they often think of certain songs and sermons. Style preferences can create great debate and even schisms. What I've come to realize over the years is that the "service" (I still don't like that word, thanks to the criticisms of it from the emerging church conversation) doesn't give much meaning to me. I can enjoy them, but they're not really transformative or filled with meaning.

Even in writing that sentence, I realize that central to meaning for me is some process of transformation. If no transformation of any kind occurs, can there be meaning? Songs and sermons can be stimulating in a variety of ways and encourage us to do things differently, but I have a hard time believing that they are the primary drivers of true change.

Relationships cause change. Change occurs within relationships. This is the core of the interpersonal approach to psychotherapy, which has some strong evidence base. Church services really aren't about relationship, for better or for worse.

It's been many years since I've felt like I've found much meaning in that hour (or so) on Sunday mornings, and it's not for lack of good music and speaking. I have found much more meaning in conversations, discussions, and ways of living life together.

Where do you find meaning in your faith practice? Not enjoyment, pleasure, or confidence, but actual meaning that's long-lasting?

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