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In this day and age of churches, religion and faith, what is weird versus what is right? Churches of all shapes and sizes are around and you can plug in wherever. What I find interesting as an individual and married man, is that not all sizes fit (though I wish they did). Being humble in how one approaches this subject is very important. Wisdom is that one can openly discuss as long as one is willing to accept there could be error in viewpoints. The big picture is to know that there is grace in ones faith.
Before we get started you have to grin and chuckle with what I am about to share. If any of it applies or sticks, well, just enjoy it. It's just one person's viewpoint. Have fun and enjoy sharing your experiences whereas one and all can improve given time and effort.
Ageism? If you visit a church and 80% of the church is 1/2 your age, probably not a good fit, yet.. think again.
Ageism can lead to inclusion versus exclusion unless the senior management, fathers, pastors, priests and volunteers understand that and realize that could be an issue, or is not an issue. What are their church goals and mission? Is it different than what God and Jesus planned? How do they address it? Are they addressing it?
It's like brushing your teeth every day. If you do it, great. If not, well, there are consequences.
Again, it is funny, just like shoes, not all church sizes fit. "No need to apply" should be the motto if ageism exists. Ironically, if your heart and prayers are in the right place, it should not matter, but it does.
If your attempts to plug in does not work, no need to worry. God has a Plan.
If you and your spouse, and family, sort of fit or don't fit, be patient. Speak up, speak softly, and if asked if you fit or not, just be honest and say what you like and what needs are not being met. Sometimes that church and it's leaders have other plans and they might not meet yours and your family. It's okay. That's freedom in them, freedom in you, and freedom allows growth. Just be nice and say thank you, that was nice, and move on. If questioned later on why you left, feel free to indicate in a polite way and if there was indifference, feel free to share that in a nice tone if possible.
Oh, by the way, volunteering and gatherings are a nice way to plug in to get started. If that does not work out, there is always being a prayer warrior in your own little way. The Lord knows your heart, and mind. It's not up to others to say if you are right or wrong, just as long as you believe and hope to prosper by helping others in need.
Churches, Inclusion vs. Exlusion
Let's take a few local churches as examples:
Grace: interesting small church that grew and grew and grew. Pastor Dan, nice fellow, the church as it stands today, how many lives have it saved? Is it on mission? Do the big buildings, parking lots, and stages meet the needs of the people? I have been on and off again to Grace and it is a rather interesting church to attend. Does the shoe fit for me, not yet. Did it ever. Not really. Was it me or them? More me than them. One of the longest churches I have visited on and off again. I pray for their long success and eventual outcomes.
St. Thomas Aquinas: My wife and I we attend Christmas Mass for the first time a while back. My wife she is Catholic by birth and family, and Christian as an adult. Ironically, when taking communion, there is some degree of improvement that needs to be made for Catholics versus Christians, and inclusion especially in the name of Jesus and who is allowed versus not allowed to take communion in all its forms and rights. One of the deacons I enjoy his thinking in terms of tithing versus a tip and Christmas and Easter only attendees versus regular attendees. I have a saying and motto that I just made up, "if you sow, it should grow." The rectors, fathers, and others in the parish, and so on and so far are pretty funny and likeable. I hope the global scuttlebutt issues in the news goes away and is resolved. The Vatican should be more transparent and just get to the point and deal with all the Catholic curbside appeal and separatist issues between them and other faiths. It will help them in the long run to be more inclusive of other Jesus based faiths.
I believe there should be more inclusion versus exclusion when it comes to taking communion. If you are Catholic you can take of the bread and wine, and if you are not, you can only take of the bread? Is that true?
As a cornerstone church visibly in history of the Reno downtown, I pray that they continue to explore strength in their message of communion, inclusion by the letter of the Bible, and exclusion of things outside the Bible (if you know what I mean), and grace given to those who sincerely repent and wish to change.
Reno Living Stones Downtown: Ah.. a favorite. This one is of particular interest. Inclusion seems to be a cornerstone of their approach, yet I find ageism and plugging could be a little bit of a challenge. Ironically, in leadership, the team members typically are 10+ years younger than the leaders in order for things to work out smoothly, yet in churches, does that apply as well? It might. Each persons experience here could be different. They have interesting goals and growth north and south could be a positive factor. The pastors are very likeable, yet approachable - they could be super busy doing lots of things. Their transparency in operations, and regularity and predictability is interesting and good. Acknowledgement in communications is always a challenge. The age of no-reply is acceptance is odd yet true for the new generation, and I suggest querying the crowd by standing or raising their hands would be a great improvement towards immediate feedback too on things to be done and things in progress. Right foot forward, skin in the game, do the hokey pokey, and honest hard feedback is best. Smile. Pray. Plan. Do. Repeat.
The cool thing about startup and seed churches - Livingstones Reno, (LSReno) not quite the unicorn in the room, but very close. The beauty is that the founders started Livingstones at Grace Church, relocated to Lawler Event Center when they got too big for Grace, and then created their own downtown digs. That is an interesting startup fact.
New Life Christian Center (NLCC): This is/was a favorite and I do like much of what they do. This church has a great and interesting road and journey ahead. Inclusion is great. Exclusion appears to not be an issue and inclusion is abundant. Partnering is a great idea and rotating pastors is also cool. Overall application of grace and understanding is one of importance for future, past, and present. No drama please and gossiping should be a no-no. All is well that starts and ends well. Love the expansion and communication. Good stuff.
Faith Family Fellowship: Though this church held at the YMCA in Sparks over on Baring Blvd is long gone and the Pastor Sean Randall is long since moved on, it should be noted that this gathering was one of my favorites. Not only volunteering with church setup and breakdown int he basketball court, and the offsite events with family and friends; prayer walks at night around neighborhoods, BBQ at the parks with some degree of software ball and football, road trips, and of course, prayer and music; it truly was an amazing experience. Blessings to all that I remember there and still come and go in my life's journey.
Awkward as it may seem to share and talk about it in a blog, one thing to understand is that one's salvation supersedes religion and church. These places are a means to grow and fill in your questions and blanks as you discover what you already know about a greater One in your faith. You always had it, you just forgot. If you are and were created in His image at birth, then you knew it, and have always know it. Just applying it and letting out your existing knowledge and faith amid the present day preaching is your challenge.
We know what is right and wrong. We know that being good is a great start, and having some faith is even better. Regardless of the scriptures, the Bible, and other forms of literature that you read and understand; the most important is to have faith, in yourself, and above all else, faith in others and that there is something bigger out there and inside of you that always existed.
ps. you know I never used the word hypocrisy for a reason. While the word exists and there are variations of that in our experiences with many forms of religion, there is none of that in your faith.
You are never to old to give up the old ways of thinking and being, and start anew and enjoy a fruitful life. Those that remind you of your past and how you have erred hopefully do so in love to keep you from repeating that past, not to make you feel bad about yourself and remain shameful and remorseful.
Minute by Minute Renewal
Be sure to have grace, and forgive and pardon those in your life regardless because it will free you and them to go on and grow, and help others in a new light and hopefully a new way of being and living. Every minute take the moment to listen to your breathing and feel your heart beat. Take every feeling and moment and appreciate it. In the snap of your fingers, that could be gone.
Reminder of Lasting Moments
The one you love who drives off to run errands right after you give them a kiss, smile, smirk and wave, and tell them you love them....might not come back. That mortal moment and memory of them alive and with you could be your last. You always should remember those moments and memories and cherish them, both with your love, and your kids, and parents. (my rule of 3 says, the last thing you say should be the first....ergo. this paragraph should be at the top of this article... C'est la vie! Bon chance!)
Amen for now...more to come...
Read and learn more @ http://www.renodowntownchurches.com/
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