The First Church of Middle Earth

randomlychad  —  January 19, 2012 — 16 Comments

20120119-123558.jpg

Several years ago, my wife and I went looking for a church where we could put down roots. What we didn’t expect was a place whose roots seemingly went deep into the mines of Moria.

What do I mean?

Well, the first clue was the inclusion of the words “Eagle’s Nest” in the church’s name. As anyone who’s read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or indeed seen the excellent Peter Jackson films, knows: eagles figure largely in the plot. Large eagles figure largely in the plot.

And so it was with this church: the logo was indeed a large eagle.

So? You might ask. Lots of churches have the words eagle, or eagles, in their names, right? Maybe so, maybe so.

But I’m not done. Not by a long shot. Whether it gets better, or worse, I’ll leave up to you.

So, after we made our way past the giant eagle, my wife and I were assaulted, er, greeted, by two very large men. And when I say when men, I mean cave trolls. These dudes were ginormous!

And if the impression this “fellowship” wanted to give by the selection of these giant gentlemen as their greeters was one of intimidation, they succeeded. In spades.

As we made our past them, and through their cave, we passed into the sanctuary, or as they called it, the “fellowship hall.”

Interestingly, just to the left of the main doors of the hall, was another, smaller, room, with a sign above its doors: “Upper Room” (may as well have read “Mines of Moria”). Inside, there were a number of people praying. I stopped to listen for a moment, and to my amazement, they weren’t praying in English!

For all I know, it could have been the Black Speech of Mordor:

“Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.” (“One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them”).

(Ok, so I exaggerate. We didn’t walk out then and then there because we were familiar with the Scriptures where Paul wrote of “speaking in tongues.” Thus, we concluded, in admitted naïveté, that this church was “operating in the gifts”).

But it gets better, or again, worse: we found our seats, caught again the occasional snippet of non-English prayers wafting from the “mines,” and prepared for a sweet time of fellowship with the Lord.

The praise and worship started normally enough: the songs were in, you know, English. But it quickly became something else: glossolalia, like Gandalf at the Council of Elrond, broke out everywhere. And like his utterance of the Black Speech at that council, it was pandemonium (to our ears anyway).

Not only that, but we seemed to have somehow found ourselves seated directly in front of Boromir! What do I mean? Well, this dear brother’s gift, like Boromir, was his amazing ability to wind his hunting horn!

During the praise service!

(“The horn of Boromir! Quickly! The hobbits are in trouble!”)

————

Ok, you get the point. The foregoing is an entirely true account of our (my wife and I) first, and last, visit to that church. I felt comfortable in relating this tale for two reasons:

1) This church is long since defunct, and I’m not likely to hurt anyone’s feelings; and
2) Such excesses still routinely occur in the name of “operating in the gifts.” (Snake handling, anyone?)

In all seriousness, what if my wife and I had not been believers, had been seeking the Lord, what would our impression have been of Christians, and indeed Christianity (based on this fellowship)? In addition to thanking God that he prays in tongues more, Paul addresses this:

“13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Cor 14:13-19, ESV).

What do you think? Have you ever had an experience like this?

Comments

comments

randomlychad

Posts Twitter Facebook

Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,962 other subscribers

  • Rob

    Yes. I experienced it last week. I spoke a Christian school chapel service and afterwards some girls asked me to pray for them. When I said “dear God” a woman came out of no where and started speaking in tongues. It took me off guard for a hot second. I didn’t see it coming. She’s like a ninja with her stealth like moves.

    • Dude! I know. Not that I have anything against the gifts--I’m not a cessationist--it’s just how, and when, they’re used.

  • Bonus points for incorportaing Lord of the Rings!

    This is one of my biggest pet-peeves, in relations to church. While it’s not my place to judge people’s intentions (are they whole-heartedly praising God, or trying to make a show?), it seems to be mostly alienating for the rest of the congregation. And distracting.

    If I were to walk in off the street, having no preconceived notions of church, I would quickly walk back out of there. Of course, knowing what I know now, if I were to walk in off the street into a church like that, I’d also quickly flee.

    That being said, I’m not against people operating in the spirit, so to speak. It’s just Sunday morning’s aren’t always the best fit for it though, ya know? Specific prayer/praise meetings would seem to be a better fit.

    • I’m totally with you on that: it’s not my place, either. It could well be that this congregation was entirely sincere, but I think it’s telling that it’s no longer in existence.

      This was a long time ago, & I was (shall we say) much “younger” in the Lord. This is, in some ways, both good--and bad: I was more open to experiencing Him. And I was more open to experiencing Him (maybe not in good ways). 😉

  • TorConstantino

    Dude, THIS is priceless -- fantastic job bro!!!!

    • Thanks, bro! Appreciate it. Means a lot coming from you, sir.

  • On point. So often, churches forget that it’s always someone’s first time, and that person may have no idea what church is about.

    • Thanks, “man!” IKYKWIM

      I’m biased, but I really believe my current church is god at this.

      Be seeing you around the Internet, and on the Isle.

  • I haven’t, but a friend went to one once. They commanded him to speak in tongues, so he starting speaking Spanish. That satisfied them.

    • Are you serious? I guess I’m not surprised. I mean I’ve heard of churches where they decide what your gifting is. “Brother so-and-so? Piano. Let’s pray. Ok, now play!” I wish I were making that up.

  • Hey at my church all of our computers in the tech department are named after Lord of the Rings characters, but I’m pretty sure that’s beneficial to non-christians.

    Seriously though, not only does the environment you spoke on hurt visitors, it is bad for the people at the church. Church is meant to be a community of people worshipping God together. You can’t be in community with others if no one knows what anyone is saying or doing or wearing rings that turn you invisible.

    • Amen, Evan! Well said. The church is a hospital. And as with any hospital, one needs to understand the course of treatment that’s being communicated.
      Thanks for stopping by!