Because of our human nature we often have our own expectations when we see something, or hear something. It is one of the things we always get told as young people not to do, bow down to stereotypes. But do we carry this teaching into adult life? Do we realise how many obstacles we put in our own, and other people's, way by expecting the expected?
The thoughts behind these words started a few weeks ago as I sat in the vestry at the church I was about to lead worship in. I was their quite early, and I was going over my sermon notes. I don't really like working in quiet, so it was nice to hear people going about their business before church. It was a good reminder of why I was there. Yet this was to be short lived. The steward quickly silenced people in the corridor, because I was in the vestry and he didn't want to disturb me. The same steward removed coat hangers from the back of the vestry door because they made too much noise. Now some people like silence, and I'm all for it at the right times.
At the same church, someone came up to me at the end and said they had had a really good time. They had enjoyed church. I was thinking this was a really good thing, and congratulating myself on this. But then this lady went on to say, "But you shouldn't enjoy chapel, should you?" This took me a back slightly. I left the church worrying about them. This particular church is very Methodist, complete with Wesley bust and pews.
Whereas I do call myself Methodist, I do struggle with Methodism sometimes. Maybe it is the whole of the established church, but we are slow on the up take. We are thought to all sit in uncomfortable wooden pews, sing boring long songs which don't make any sense and the same thing happens each week. And some of the time we conform to it. But so often, it would benefit us not to!
I led our shoppers service recently. This is a 15 minute service on a Friday morning. It's great because you can easily play around with things. I did it on pray, and ended up with the Lord's Prayer to finish everything. Someone said it was great to have things in a different order, it makes you think.
So how much would we stop, think and realise if we did things really differently? I love the dreams young people have, because they aren't inhibited by practicalities. On Sunday, one of the young people at youth group suggested having a tree house church. It was great to dream with them. This dream came from an observation that it is easier for one of our leaders to worship in a warehouse type building. A blank canvass. Something that doesn't look like a church.
So what expectations do we live into? Which ones should we surprise people be dropping by the wayside?