in flames redOn Friday, December 5th, I accompanied my friend–whom I shall refer to as The Other James–to see the bands Red Fang, In Flames, and Opeth play at the Sokol Hall in Omaha, Nebraska. Without going into great detail about the wondrous experience that was had at the show, let’s just say that it was epic. Warm \,,/METAL\,,/ induced fuzzies were had by all that attended. Except for maybe the significant others of the \,,/METAL\,,/heads that were dragged there regardless of whether or not they liked the music of awesome, I guess. But, that’s besides the point.

It was near the end of the show; I was in the upstairs balcony sitting in the bleachers on account of my arthritic ankle, taking in Opeth’s set (which is mind-blowingly awesome, by the way…they really are the Pink Floyd of extreme music, but I digress), more or less fellowshipping with my fellow \,,/METAL\,,/ brethren and sistern, when the thought occurred to me: Why can’t church be more like a \,,/METAL\,,/ show?

Mind you, I’m not talking about the music style played, or the setup of the building, or even the kind of people that show up to church. I’m talking about the contrast of the atmosphere I was getting at the show, versus what I normally come across when I go to church each and every Sunday.

At the show, there were slices from all over the genre spectrum there, mainly due to the diverse styles of the bands that were playing–Red Fang was more stoner metal, and In Flames was melodic technical death metal, whereas Opeth is…Opeth–but the tribes ran the gamut of the beared and burly death metal types, the Vikings with the war vests, the scenester and hardcore kids, the darker gothic types, to even those who have to dress conservatively due to the nature of their careers, but were there in the mosh pits and working on their bangover none-the-less. There were more than a handful of those who had some sort of physical handicap–a couple in wheelchairs in the back jamming out, I saw a blind guy playing along with the guitars on his guide cane…heck, I was going tripod myself, using a cane to hobble about due to my gouty ankle (the doctor says “gout”, but I’m convinced my body just wants to be a jerk sometimes). Some parents even brought their young kids along to share in the goodness (the vocalist for In Flames pointed to one of them and proclaimed, “Here’s to the next generation of metal-heads!” at one point, which was bloody awesome). For the four hours we were there, there was a general sense of camaraderie and respect between everyone. I overheard one of the security officers quip that it was always so quiet at these metal shows. More than once I was asked by complete strangers, even more scary-looking than I am, if I was doing okay due to my obvious ankle discomfort.

In short, I felt at home. At a metal concert. And it wasn’t even close to being a so-called Christian metal concert.

So…why can’t I feel like that at church on Sundays? I mean, I realize that by going to a church that is literally called Country Bible Church, and is situated in the country in Eastern Nebraska around a general farming community that I may have already answered my own question. But, that’s the thing–many different people, the one thing that brings us all together being our faith in Christ Jesus, my risen Lord, Saviour and God, and my being a Christian since I was 15…I still feel like the outsider in the club. In many ways, I still feel like I did in High School, being one of the few \,,/METAL\,,/-heads there. Sure, I was a member of that school, but I really didn’t fit in anywhere. The same still holds when I go to church, when I join in the corporate worship each week. I still feel like I have to prove myself worthy of joining in. I hate that feeling.

Mind you, I love the church I’ve been attending (for the most part) since 2006. The focus on exegesis study of the Bible is right up my alley, and I find things intellectually stimulating, helping me deepen my faith and understanding. And I realize that no church is perfect, whatsoever. Still, the fact that I felt more accepted and at home at a \,,/METAL\,,/ show in a seedy venue in South Omaha, with those that share my love of the genre, more than I do in a sanctuary surrounded by those who share my faith in Jesus…well, I found that rather profound, personally. It’s less of an indictment and more of a lament. Maybe there’s just something wrong with me, I don’t know. What do you guys think?