The “Eglise EvangÃ©lique de la combe de Savoie” in Bourgneuf is about 40 minutes drive from us, on the way to Albertville. I’ve preached there twice. They have been through a hard time over the last year. The pastor’s wife has had a cancer treatment. Several people have left…
InÂ the summer,Â the church granted a 6 months sabbatical to their pastor so that he and his wife canÂ have a break and rest. They’ll come back at the end of January. That’s good.
A retired pastor from Albertville will beÂ preaching there regularly and they’ve asked me also if I can help out with the preaching. I have given them my availabilities and am waiting for some dates now.
On Sunday, after the morning service, a good number of the church folks met in the house of some of our members who live in the Chartreuse, a mountain range above ChambÃ©ry. We had a picnic and fellowship before walking down to the cirque de St MÃªme, a mountain amphitheater next to where they live. It is a well known touristic spot for those who are not keen on hiking. Hundreds of people meet on the riverside.
The idea was to walk around the amphitheater before having a singing session and tract distribution in this touristic spot.
It was hot and sunny. We stayed by the river while the others walked around the waterfalls. Then we met and set up in a corner for our singing session. It was good. People kept their distance but they heard us. Some went to distribute tracts and had a couple ofÂ good conversations. One of our members is Syrian, of Armenian descent. She found out that the families who were sitting closest to us were Muslim Syrians and she was obviously thrilled to meet some fellow countrymen.
Bourgneuf is a small village of around 700 people. It is half way between ChambÃ©ry and Albertvillle and at the door of the Maurienne Valley, in the heart of the Alps. It is quite rural, and most people commute to ChambÃ©ry, Albertville, or even Grenoble for work.
The small evangelical church in Bourgneuf serves a wide area. It is the only one between ChambÃ©ry and Albertville. It meets in a small Temple, well located on the road side. But it is struggling. Rural communities in France are very hard to reach. One of the challenges is that although people live there, they work away all day and don’t spend that much time around. Christians also gatherÂ from a wide area. They often work late and it is difficult to find time outside Sunday meetings. Our friends and colleagues Richard and Terece help there alongside the pastor and his wife.
I first preached there in December. I was invited again last Sunday. It was good to be there, meet new folks and catch up with the people. After the service, the church had invited the neighbours for an ‘apÃ©ritif’. Five came along and chatted happily with the members. After this, we stayed for a fellowship lunch with the church members before heading home later in the afternoon.
Remember Bourgneuf in your prayers. They face a challenging situation. The feel discouraged also. They’ve worked hard at evangelizing, but seem to have had little impact.
I am finding the whole worship bands emphasis difficult. Yesterday, we worshipped in a church with a good worship band. They played well, but I am still finding it difficult. Here is why:
- We hardly know the songs, therefore hardly anyone sings apart from the lead singer.
- When we know the songs, we still don’t know how they are going to be interpreted, which paragraphs are going to be sung when, and how many times, and what about the chorus, how many times are we going to sing it? The people controlling the projection are not sure either and get lost. Therefore, people give up singing.
- Then, the leader suddenly start praying. Hold on, how can I pray with you if you don’t warn me you are going to pray. I just stand there, looking stupid, wondering what is going on. When is this going to end?
- I’ve said it before, hardly anybody sings in the assembly. Why bother, the band is doing it for me, and they sing in tune. How am I taking part in the worship if I am not singing. I am passive, waiting to be told to sit down.
- In the end, I am just watching a nice performance. But wait, did I come to watch a performance, or to worship God? If I want to watch a performance, I might as well go to a concert and pay for it.
You don’t have to agree with me, but it feels the band is taking more and more space. The service was about 1 1/2 hour. AlmostÂ 1 hour was taken by the worship band, the rest was shared between the message and the communion. Is anyone going to say anything, or are we going to carry on until the space for the Word has shrunk to the point of disappearing?
Yesterday, we visited the Eglise Protestante EvangÃ©lique du Drac. We had a warm welcome. I think people were happily surprised to haveÂ visitors. Maybe that’s because the church wasn’t easy to find. In theory, it should be. It is alongside the dual carriageway, I even spotted a sign advertising for the alpha course as we drove past it. In practice, once you get out of the carriageway, the building is tucked in a dead end, and you’re not sure whether you are allowed to cross the tram tracks or not with your car. It took us 5-10 minutes to work out how to get to the car park. Then we had to find where they meet, upstairs, at the end of a long, dark corridor.
Another reason for their surprise may have been that French Christians don’t often visit other churches. We were in Grenoble to visit my brother and spend the day with the whole family. It had snowed most of the night. Most French people would have skipped church and would have gone to their family reunion. But we wanted to go to church. There was one not too far, so we left a bit earlier to get in time for the service, and we left quickly afterwards.
It was nice to see another church, much bigger than the ones we are used to. The service was quite smooth, with a strong brethren stance. Only drawback to me was the worship band (more of that in another post). They played very well, but I am finding the accent on having a worship band with a lead singer difficult. But it was a nice bunch of folks. We’ll go again if we are in the area.
Today, we are going west. But in order to go west, we must head towards the North-West from where we are. I know, it is strange but that’s how France works. In France, when you speak about the West, you speak about the region West of Paris. Anyway. We are going towards Le Mans. I am speaking at a youth conference organised by and for Hmong Believers. We are all going, which is nice.
On the way, we are stopping In MontluÃ§on, where my grandmother lives. We’ll try to go and see her and will spend the night in a hotel there.