Why Stay? --
We attended a great service at our current church on Sunday. I'd like to describe it by way of proving my point, but I know some roll their eyes at listening to others talk about how great their church is. Totally understandable, but please indulge me. If you want, just skip to the end, where I make my point.
The pastor delivered a thoughtful message about defining ourselves. Do we define ourselves by our relationship to those around us? By our relationship to material things? By our relationship to institutions? Or do we define ourselves the way God sees us, by our relationship to Christ? Defining ourselves the way God does allows us to weather a lot of storms at work and in life. Suddenly worldly success doesn't mean that much, so we don't need to stress when job and position and health and wealth are taken away, as they ultimately will be. He tied his sermon to the Bible rather than his own authority, and based his comments on several verses rather than things scattered all over the place quilted together to make a debating point. If you don't believe him, read the words for yourself and see if you see something different.
The music afterwards was phenomenal. Not just the quality, but the response. There was energy in the room, people singing loudly, clapping, raising their hands, and responding with joy at the chance to worship. Not charismatic or anything, but just very enthusiastic and emotional. People were involved in the service.
I just had to contrast this to the times I've attended LDS services lately.
Now, I'm not one who claims that sacrament meetings have to be hugely entertaining. I enjoy listening to talks and generally comparing them to the same talk I have heard dozens of times before on the same subject, considering what I might have said in their place, and singing the hymns. But I fear I'm in the minority. Looking out at the congregation from the stand is usually not much different from sitting in a doctors waiting room. People are not smiling, they look vacant, and they clearly want to be elsewhere most of the time, especially these days when most sacrament talks are just rehashed general conference talks. When the speaker puts themselves into the talk they are hugely enjoyable, but that seems to happen less and less. More and more people just quote large sections of the general conference talk and then bear a short testimony without adding much of their own thoughts.
Regardless of the quality of the content, most people are just not that engaged. They want it to be over. Likewise the singing. I'm embarrassed sometimes to sing in LDS congregations because I sound so loud compared to the few people around me who are singing, especially in the back. In our current church people often sing so loud you have no hope of hearing yourself, no matter how loud you are.
So, here's the point.
I really had to ask myself on Sunday. Sound scriptural teaching and not just somebody's opinion glittered with proof texts from the scriptures or general authorities quoting general authorities quoting general authorities. Energetic emotional worship that engaged the congregation. I was free to be myself and not worry about what other people thought of what I dressed or did during the service. I could just open my heart and respond.
Why would I trade this for an LDS service? Why would I give up this kind of true worship for leaden LDS sacrament meetings where people are just going through the motions? Why would I trade this passionate experience for the equivalent lifeless one?
I really couldn't think of a good reason.