Church Observations

by sumpteretc

I don’t have anything too profound to write about today. Because this was a Sunday, we didn’t have a whole lot going on. Our church does not have its own building, so we don’t have our Sunday service until 2:00 p.m. We meet in something like a shopping center, and another church meets in that space in the morning. It’s nice to not have to rush around to get ready in the morning, but it just feels odd to have church in the afternoon.

The service starts pretty much on time. There is quite a bit of singing and praying. Most of the songs seem to be translated choruses from America or Australia, sometimes repeated ad infinitum. There also doesn’t seem to be a great deal of variety; we sang several songs this week that we sang last week and in February/March 2007. Tiffany was out with Joel for part of the service, and Elijah slept through most of it. Gantuya, a girl who speaks English pretty well, came back and sat with me to provide abbreviated translation. The message was from the account of John the Baptist and focused on the cost of discipleship. It was refreshing to hear this perspective, as I had feared that the prosperity gospel was infecting the believers here.

After the service, Gantuya showed us the church offices and invited us to their Wednesday evening staff meetings. This is an interesting time of transition in the church. Pastor Naraa is preparing to step down to allow Otgonbayar, the founder of the church, to return to the pastorate. Otgonbayar has been in Chicago the past four years or so. There is going to be an interim period between Naraa’s abdication and Otgonbayar’s arrival, so this morning they introduced the team of people who will lead the church during that period and we prayed over that group. It was comprised of 9 or 10 ladies. While there are a number of men in the church, it seems that not many of them are in leadership roles. That may be somewhat indicative of the culture as a whole, where it seems that men are almost expected to be alcoholics and of little value when regarding the advancement of the society.