Call to Act or Worship

Baptism is something Christians do to wash away sin and take upon themselves the name of Christ. It does not need to be any more complicated than this.

I attend church every Sunday with the family. However, I do not attend Sunday School. I just sit in the foyer on the couch and read to myself and occasionally talk with stragglers like myself. Attending Sunday school is very difficult for me. It’s too speculative, too theoretical. Nothing ever gets done because we never get organized.

I do not mind the emotional parts, the crying and testifying of one’s knowledge, or feeling something spiritual, which I wonder about, but I do question the results. Let me explain.

Which would you prefer to do on Sunday–worship Christ or serve one another? If you say “worship Christ,” this would include singing, maybe taking the sacrament, listening to a talk, fasting and maybe some prayer. Worship does not necessarily include “serving one another.”

This is why I would rather build a community garden to make sure everyone has fresh produce, or perhaps put a new roof on a widow’s home in my neighborhood. This has a real call to action, something greater than Sunday worship. I would rather meet with other business owners to create a community health care service and return vital wealth and voice back in the community. This too me is “taking on the name of Christ.” What if we defined worship in this way? What if worship is service conserved in the community? What if Christianity is a community thing? This would certainly be more optimistic. A baptism into this kind of covenant is something special.

Listening to a teacher in Sunday School is frustrating because I want to ask too many questions and engage in long discussion, often with a singular intent to act on something that adds value. Perhaps if we had more discussion with a real call to act this would get me going. You see, I am a radical. A radical wants to get to the root essence of something and then act on it. The Oxford English Dictionary defines radical as “…belonging to, or from a root or roots; fundamental to or inherent in the natural processes of life.” The root essence of being a Christian is to love one another in service, to know the principle and act on it. Everything else can be a fastidious religious practice.

I remember the movie Witness with Harrison Ford who played that part of a detective trying to protect an Amish boy who was a witness to a murder. In that movie Ford’s character hides out in an Amish Community to heal from a gun shot wound. As he begins to recuperate he joins the community in a barn raising.

I could sit through the most boring Sunday School lesson if I knew we were going to raise a barn the next day. A real call to act like this is more inspiring, more relational, and more connecting. This is what we are missing today, more calls to act as a community to bring us together. Instead we have a stale worship from a pulpit or lectern, which sometimes is okay but mostly really boring.

Genuine optimism is a call to action, something the entire community can sink their teeth into. The more culture we build that unites a community, the more we will get people like me involved. And there are a lot of people like me, people who sit and remain quiet and uninvolved, people with drive but no community structure to engage their drive.

There will come a day, a day of crisis, when all the couch sitters finally get to jump up and do the work they desire. Until that day, for now, their particular need for applied action as a community effort is too disrupting for those in power. The current establishment powers everywhere in the community tend to marginalize those with passion to add value because it threatens their authority, specially when the action involves the entire community. The true spirit of leadership moves without proper authority.

Let me end with this. Genuine leadership takes responsibility because it is suddenly free and welcome to take. A renaissance is coming as responsibility begins to fracture by the heavy weight of top-heavy control. When all vertically integrate power structures begin to fall, responsibility will suddenly become more accessible and more affordable for all to take. In that day mountains of know-it-all controllers will become valleys and the valleys of the genuine will become mountains. This will all change when we figure out how to organize using natural leadership and not appointed or authority leadership. I will explain the difference in my next post.

Keith R Kelsch, The Genuine Optimist

  • Brandon Host

    I really like this concept and thought process as a whole! Serving one another, in my opinion, would be far more beneficial to the community than just having sunday worship. I have nothing against worship, but singing and praying isn’t exactly getting a whole lot done within the community. By doing things for one another, I think that it would make people become a lot closer to one another, which is something that people are looking for when they are attending church. Becoming closer with everyone in the community. Action is the key to making a difference, and I have never noticed a whole lot of action going on during sunday school.

  • Sharon Rosenbaum

    I enjoyed this blog overall! I am a year new into a religion. Learning about their culture has been different and very interesting. At times it can be a challenge to work full time, be a full time student, and then dedicate a day to the church. I love how you said you would rather help others with your time. It was interesting when you said, “Nothing ever gets done because we never get organized.” I agree! Another answer would be, “nothing ever gets done because we always procrastinate.”

  • Karissa Young

    Recently I have been learning more about the difference between being religious and being spiritual. There is a way to be religious without being spiritual, which is one reason I feel like this sort of thing occurs each Sunday with many people and many different churches. Many just go and worship by learning, and praising. While this is good,I also feel there are better and best ways to fully worship. This occurs when someone is not just religious, but focusing on spirituality. True spirituality is what brings the greatest joy. This is why instead of just praising and learning on Sunday’s, the best thing is to become the type of person who does something. There are ways to serve at religious services as well. The more we focus on being at these religious services not for ourselves but to help others, and see the needs of others and act, the more effective our worship can be. While worshiping with learning and praise is better than not worshiping, there are still better and best ways to apply our worship.

  • Rod Warr

    I enjoy Sunday worship and try to keep my focus on Christ. Like most I struggle, and am far from perfect. In the Sunday school portion of class, I feel for me it is a valuable place to learn about Christ and his doctrine as well as hear the weaknesses and opinions of others. I then try to make it my responsibility to put it into practice the rest of the day and the rest of the week. It is difficult sometimes when I see we have gone off topic in class or feel like it is all speculation and no action. I try and use those moments however to analyze where I am at inwardly or motivate myself for the following week. I feel like everyone is spiritually nourished differently and that it is important for people to worship how they best see that they and others will get the most out of it. This doesn’t have to all inside of a classroom. I believe everyone is needed and that everyone has something to offer. It is important for us to be accepting and loving and see what we can learn from them.

  • Abby Wynn

    Stale worship. This is finally the term that defines most sunday school classes, for me at least. I totally feel the entire concept of being able to sit through the boring lecture if you know that tomorrow you were all going to band together to “build the barn.” But unfortunately most weeks this is not the case. Don’t get me wrong, church organizations are behind many amazing service oriented projects and take worship above and beyond, on occasion. To Keith, I commend you on writing such a bold post that is clearly going to make a lot of turbulence and outcry from the defensive.

  • Linzi Hansen

    For me sitting in a lesson on Sunday learning about Christ, learning from others as they share faith filled experiences or testimony motivates me to act. What I mean by this is that those meetings at church drive me to serve others during the week and do my best to act as Christ would. I think many people do “build the barn” the next day just maybe not on a huge scale. But I have seen many people in my church come together or organize to make sure that people are taken care of. Whether it be bringing in meals or watching children or doing yardwork. This may not be as big as “building a barn”, but to the person receiving the service it can be huge. I know because I have been the recipient of service and it changed my life, strengthened by testimony, helped me to know that my Savior is aware of me, and caused me to ACT when needed.
    I also think that natural leadership is important, but sometime appointed authority gives people direction and helps them to fulfill a leadership role that they otherwise might not have.
    I love the idea of organizing and acting, but I don’t think if it is done differently or not on a large scale that is should be discounted or disregarded as unimportant. It makes me think of the quote “Little by little, a little becomes A LOT”. We make change one step at a time, one small act of service at a time and then hopefully the goodness or the optimism spreads.

  • Katie Griffeth

    This blog post is so refreshing. Someone actually saying what most others are thinking. I think that worship of Christ comes in different ways for each person. The church I belong to however, speaks very highly on becoming like Christ. To me this means to actually do what he did and emulate how he treated others. Service was his number one priority. He served all the time, so to me I find it very hard when others in my church do not want to do that. We are preached to each week about the importance of service, yet it seems to be a chore for some to actually go and do it. I have a go and get it done personality as well, so action would be my first choice to participate in. Mostly I would love if we were out planting flowers, or cleaning yards, or building sheds because I think it would benefit my children to see work being done. I can go to church and battle with my four little kids each week and come home exhausted only to ask what they learned and have they stare at me blankly. By doing service my children could see how rewarding it is to work hard, to see the reactions of the people that are being served and their gratitude, and experience the feeling of true service. I know their is the argument that when service projects are held not many people show up or attend to help, which is true. I feel this might be because often people are already burnt out by the callings they have, and time they put into those those callings. Could we lessen those and put the effort into actually serving? Having said all of this I do believe there is a time for worshiping Christ as well. I’m not saying we don’t need that in our lives. I’m just saying there needs to be more of a balance. Practicing what we are worshiping would be of great benefit to many, including ourselves.

  • Richard Empey

    Community’s would do well if their was action to bring them together and create an atmosphere in which everyone has a voice and can speak freely. When listening to one individual this becomes repetitive and does not ignite imagination and ideas, when people join group discussion ideas can be formed and evolved through every persons thoughts and opinions.

  • kara stoddard

    I agree with the general statement that the community is responsible to be called to action. I’m guilty, I wish I played a larger role, but I don’t. Being someone who isn’t particularly religious (anymore) I think service is more important than worship. But then again, I don’t engage in any type of worship. Everyone is different and requires different things to be self-fulfilled. I never really enjoyed Sunday school, and can relate to your perspective.

  • Tori Abbott

    I agree with the statement that as a community we are lacking more acts to call as a community. I think that often service does end up being marginalized in some regards, but I also think that means as individuals we are constantly aware of opportunities to lead and take on responsibility. If you are working towards serving others, you become an example and can likely create a domino like effect. An example that comes to mind is the small act of paying it forward – it always starts with one or a few individuals making a conscious effort to serve and think of others; however, it almost always continues on person after person. I would also agree with you on Sunday school – I love the services, and find it to enriching; however, Sunday school can drag on mindlessly and feel quite boring at times. It would be interesting to see if I, and others, would feel different if there was more organization and discussion designated to service.

  • Kyle Behunin

    I enjoyed this post and your writing on calling the community to action. Effort is different for each of us. Putting in my best effort is probably better or worse than your best effort. This is why I think that some people wouldn’t sit through the most boring Sunday School lesson to build a barn the next day. I would rather just start working on building the barn right then and there. There are some people that wouldn’t want to do either of those things. What I’m trying to get at is that some people don’t have the unnamed virtue that Aristotle describes as a desire to excel. But some do, and I think that those are the people that act as the leadership within communities.

  • Nikki Moon

    I personally have always felt that worship included service. To be like those beings that we believe in, we must serve others. I don’t feel that I excel at serving, but I try. And one way I feel that can be done is at church itself. Reaching out to someone or sitting by them if they’re alone can lay the groundwork for service or be a service in itself. Of course, I would love to be able to do bigger things, but I don’t always know how. I think this chance for community action really just depends on which community you live in. In an LDS YSA ward in St. George, no, we don’t really come together to do things for others as a whole group, but back home, I witnessed that everyday. My family struggled with finances due to medical issues for most of my childhood and I can recall several acts that the community came together to do for us. I feel that worship and optimism can be achieved by a great combination of things, especially service.

  • Mikaylee Mohr

    I agree that building a community that worships Christ is the main function that will serve Christ as well. The church I am involved in focuses on the aspect of serving one another in the name of Christ and I believe that this ultimately brings me closer in my relationship with him. I am a very strong believer in Christianity and believe that worship is just as important as serving others in the community; and this service comes with more responsibility, and more action that brings us closer the Lord and how he wants us to treat one another in society.

  • Sydney Wathen

    I think that there is definitely a need for action and people actually practicing what they believe. I don’t necessarily think that if one were to take out religion and simply do good deeds, the results may not be as beneficial and burnouts may be more common. While I do believe that in some organized religion there are not enough chances to help and improve the community and others around us, but religion helps to set a foundation for that desire. There does need to be more opportunities for church members to talk with one another and form strong relationships with each other. I’m not saying that religion is the only reason that people do good thing, I only believe that religion acts as a catalyst for righteous thoughts and can open opportunities for others. There needs to be a balance between worship and acting on what is being worshiped and studied. Because in my opinion, worship and service both bring us closer to Christ and help us to feel more fulfilled as humans.

  • Sharon Rosenbaum

    This blog is one of my favorites so far. It makes a topic that many people complain about and puts value/ explanation into it. I am always for worshiping god. However, Sunday school is something that I also do not attend. Sundays are suppose to be with family. I am a full-time student with a full time job. Therefore, the last thing I want to do is sit for 3-4 hrs on the weekend being taught. Yes at times Sunday school is very helpful. Besides when I end up going to Sunday school either myself of others are playing on their phones. Whats the purpose then? I have not seen the movie Witness. It sounds like a movie I would enjoy! Again I think this blog is so inspirational because we are all here on earth to help each other. In the long run friends and mainly family is all we have.

  • Kaitlyn A.

    I try to attend church every Sunday, but often, it’s every other. Like you, I find sitting in Sunday school hard to comprehend so I only attend the service. Sunday school for me was boring and I felt lost most of the time. Everyone would go on tangents and eventually time would run out. The service is probably my favorite because we play music. Singing along with the band is so much fun. It’s a feeling I can’t explain at times. It brings me peace in so many ways. I’m more interested in helping others too. At our church, we have a lot of missionaries serving on the Thai-Burma border. Each Sunday we receive word about how they’re doing and how the villages they are serving are doing as well. It touches my heart every time seeing the kids in the village grow and learn every day. They’ve come to love life and cherish each moment. In every message, they always leave off with a “thank you.” They are so grateful for what we do for them as a church.

  • Jonathon Allred

    I too often find myself sitting in the foyer during Sunday school. I use the time to plan any service projects or other needs in the ward that my current callings requires i attend to. But i also feel more attached to my fellow worshipers the conversations i have with them sometimes funny, sometimes spiritual but always uplifting. Lets call them a barn raising of the heart. I have no need for a real barn, I lack the cattle, but I do need the love and mental support that comes from the close relations of fellow believers. When we build barns of love and true community we grow as a community and as individuals. Leadership comes through lifting others rather than keeping them down.

    • Colette Smith

      I like going to church and learning in depth stuff. I get far to bored when we learn the same things over and over. I had a teacher once who really liked to get deep and I loved that Sunday school class. I find that when more people get involved in discussion then the topics get deeper.
      I feel like both are very important. I feel like it is important to be spiritually uplifted in a world that seems to be getting more and more violent, angry, and negative. It is important to be able to go someplace and feel the spirit, and to be uplifted at least once a week.
      I also feel like serving one another is very important. After all, isn’t that one of the things we are constantly being taught, in those “oh so exciting” Sunday school classes? I do feel like things are going to get to a point when we are going to need to help one another more to get by in this life and I think that is why we are taught to serve one another. I think a community garden would be amazing, along with a community farm. I think that anything that is self sufficient and community would be very beneficial.