I was raised Macedonian Orthodox, studied Judaism, was married in a Catholic church & practiced Catholicism for 8 years and lived in the home country of Islam, Saudi Arabia, for five years. I never converted to Judaism or Islam, left the Catholic church and am now a member of Southeast Christian Church in Parker, CO. My journey in faith has taken me in circles.
Since it is the Christmas season I felt inspired to write about going to church. Even if you don’t practice a faith, you can still go to church. How is that? Well, sometimes, you can put the cart before the horse! Think of the horse as your faith and the cart is the church. People have doubts about faith, or bad church or priest experiences from childhood or adulthood. It does happen. Please don’t blame the faith. Bad experiences result from bad people. As in my other post on “Christianity”, Christianity is perfect faith for imperfect people. There are lots of imperfect people in this world including me.
That’s why it’s good to experiment by visiting various churches to get a Biblical feel for it. I realized what qualities make up a good church by attending and visiting many here in the states and oversees.
I learned that a church should have many leaders in order to meet the vast and various needs of the members and that the leaders can be married, just like the apostles and all of us disciples. I learned a church should have an abundance of resources; Bible classes for women only, for men only, for married couples, a nursery, toddler and service meeting rooms for elementary-aged kids, youth groups for middle and high schoolers, and a variety of social and educational activities. I also learned that a church should work within its financial means while being financially savvy and transparent in its money decisions and management. It’s really wonderful when a church records and rebroadcasts it’s services to if you should happen to miss one you can catch later at your convenience.
A church should have a “Welcome” Center because it should always be welcoming the non-believers and/or new members. Not everyone is at the same level of faith or has the same relationship with Christ, nor should we all be at the same point. Our walk in Christ in individualized and always growing at our own pace, without judgement, comparison or competition.
Spiritually, a church should be Biblically-based yet culturally relevant to today. A church should translate the Bible into today’s terms to make the message relevant, “relatable”, and meaningful. I may not be able to relate to the culture back then but can certainly relate to the fact that we humans haven’t changed our ways over these past few thousand years. The struggles of days then are the exact same struggles of today!
Music is a huge part of worship too. I used to believe that the music had to be always slow and contained. While I am not a big “hallelujah” person I do enjoy music that moves me spiritually, by the words, artistry and melody.
My current favorite Christmas song is “How Many Kings…” by Down Here:
And another version with lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTYe9sWYKdo
The Bible is the most read and least read book of all time. I never even owned a Bible let alone read one until three years ago! I was so discouraged at the difficulty of comprehending the King James version until someone, a passenger next to me on a flight to Denver, comedienne Lynne Koplitz, advised me to get the New International Version. I took her advice and purchased one. Then I took a local Bible class through a nation-wide study called, “Community Bible Study”. It’s a non-denominational women’s Bible study. We studied the Book of Acts. I learned how the church was meant to be; simple, music, community, and message. That’s all it takes! I also took a Beth Moore Bible study on the Book of James, written by the half brother of Jesus, at my church. I never knew Jesus had half-siblings!
Southeast Christian has themes that last anywhere from one to 8 weeks. We spent a four weeks on a serious called, “Ducks in a Row.” One of the weeks we learned how work is worship. It was one of my favorite services. Here’s Phil getting the message out: “Work is Workship” especially at the 1hr 9 minute mark.
Christmas is the perfect time to try a new church or three. This time of year you get a lot of “CEO’s”, Christmas and Easter Only church-goers. But you should also experience the spiritual warmth and joy the Christmas season brings, hopefully enough to inspire you to join a church and give it a try in the New Year.
It’s not the faith that fails us but rather the failure of putting our faith into action. That’s what forgiveness is all about. So if you’re a non-believer or a non-practicing believer, why not give church another try. There are plenty out there to choose from. Take your time and listen to your heart. It may bring you around in circles but you’ll end up where He wants you to be.