This is the church I grew up in many, many, many, many (is that enough?) years ago.
A small church but with a congregation that worked tirelessly to serve the community. Besides the church building on their property they have a Walk In Clinic for those that can’t afford health care, a group home for developmentally disabled adults and a learning center.
Anyone looking for a church home would do well to give St John a try and if I were to still live in Tampa it would still be my choice. With that said the folks who were the backbone of the church (Mike and Olga Casanueva, Manual and Hortense Beito, and my mom and dad Charlotte and Henry Knight); of course there are others but right now these come to mind first.
Here is a link to their new website, please give it a browse and consider them for your new church home.
Yes, I am going to start whining again. I do miss the old hymns and wish they would sing them once in a while. I am getting somewhat used to the new music and the guitars and things but I look around sometimes and none of the congregation is singing along with the new music; I always thought that the hymns were interactive and it was good that the congregation sang along with the music; I sing along with the words on the screen but it just isn’t the same.
I liked the old churches like the one I grew up in that had a pulpit that the minister stood at while giving the sermon. In todays church the minister just wanders around with the wireless mic they use. Yep, the wireless mic actually is good as everyone can hear better no matter how close they sit.
The minister used to wear a robe or a collar or something so everyone would know he was the minister and being neat and formal is kind of nice.
With all of that said here is a short video I just found that I think all of us old whiners should watch or listen to:
From the blog I read called “Beauty Beyond Bones”. I don’t know the writers full name but let me tell you she has the best and most interesting blog posts. A young lady who has deeper and more interesting thoughts than I have even on a good day. Without further ado I am going to copy it and past it in here because I think it is a subject that the world needs to think more about.
Is Christianity Dead?
Well folks, another Christmas is in the books!
Christmas 2K16 is officially behind us. The eggnog has been consumed. Gifts gifted. Food coma endured. And for those brave souls who took on a real tree this year, its pine needles are officially all over the floor and will be mysteriously appearing in random crevices for the next 4 months.
Ever since I was of “appropriate age,” my family has always gone to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It is one of my favorite memories and traditions. The caroling at 11pm. The candles. The trumpets. For the past, say, 15+ years, we have been going, and every year, we’d always get there right at 11:00, throwing elbows, and staking out our pew, as it is always standing room only. And don’t even bother coming at 11:15…because there will be no parking and you’re guaranteed to be standing – two deep – in the back.
But over the past couple years, I’ve noticed that each Christmas, we don’t have to arrive quite as early. And the full-court-press/box-out/battle-to-the-death to get and save a pew has ever so gradually deescalated.
Until this year.
When the church was half empty.
For Midnight Mass. Christmas Eve.
There wasn’t a snow storm. The zombie apocalypse hasn’t happened….unless of course, I am terribly mistaken about that one..
And I couldn’t help but ask myself, as I looked around and saw several dozen teenage boys counting the ceiling tiles, looking as though they wanted to die…is our faith on life support?
Are we experiencing the decline of faith and church as we know it?
Is Christianity dead?
And that friends, is not the type of thought pattern you want to be mulling over while in church, literally celebrating the birth of Christ.
As with everything in life, looking in the mirror is a hard thing to do. Facing the truth, acknowledging and accepting it…is an exercise in extreme humility, to say the least.
But let’s call it how it is…we are experiencing a decline in Christianity. Look it up. Pew studies. People identifying as Christian. Church attendance. Prayer. Christians actively living their faith are going down. Especially in Gen X’ers and Millennials.
And that. Is scary.
Leafing through the church bulletin after mass, I was almost in a fog. Nevermind the fact that it was nearing 2am and I had just come off a 7am flight from NYC the day before…but my mind was just swirling after witnessing the stagnant, lifeless state of my once vibrant and spiritually ablaze childhood parish. So I was numbly flipping through the pages.
And there was something that caught my eye.
There was, of course, a big “welcome” section in the front. Offering Christmas greetings to parishioners, out-of-towners, guests, non-Christians joining us, etc. All nice. Great.
And then there was the line, “We are your church family and are here for you!”
And I hate to admit this, but I’ve got to be honest….that really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt painfully disingenuous.
There’s a stereotype about “church people.” And I for one, hate even giving the time of day to negative stereotypes about people. Because they’re always hurtful and typically untrue.
But desperate times…
There is a decline in our faith, and it’s time to not mince words and take a cold, hard look in the mirror. Because like it or not, we are the face of the church.
But the stereotype is that “church people” are incredibly “judgey” people. That they prance around all hoity-toity and look down on “non-church people” and scoff at their “heathen ways.”
How are we going to fix that?
Because I can attest to the fact that that stereotype is, for the most part, false.
But the commonly accepted (albeit misconceived) notion is that church is a boring, out-of-touch institution that is full of either judgy snobs, dowdy/orthopedic-shoe-wearing shut-ins, or “Jesus-freaks.”
And people don’t want anything to do with that.
So they just don’t come.
And I want to pause here for a second. I know this is only one factor. There are a lot of other issues – people having different priorities, having other interests, adopting “spirituality” while leaving behind “religion.” Not to mention the church’s often unpopular stances on hot button social issues, such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, etc. This stereotype is only one contributing factor.
But you and I…we have a personal responsibility.
We have a job to do: and that is to change that stereotype. Turn people’s minds around. Change their hearts to be open to Christ and open to faith.
Is Christianity dead?
Only if we let it.
You can’t give away what you don’t personally have.
And if I want to share Christ’s love and have it be attractive and inviting to another person, I need to have it in my heart myself. I need to have His love be overflowing in my own life, so as to attract another person to Him. And attract them back to church.
The pathetic church attendance on Christmas Eve…I partially blame myself. Because I ask myself…how am I personally fighting to set the record straight on how a “church person” looks and acts.
Because I’m going to be honest…(and I hate to admit it)…but I don’t really wear my faith outspokenly on my sleeve, for fear of being labeled a “church person.”
And I am filled with such shame typing that out, but it’s true. I don’t want to be labeled as “weird” or “out of touch” … so I keep my faith private. Let that be a personal part of my life that is between me and God.
But I realize now, that I am part of the problem.
My faith can’t be hidden. I can’t just be a silent by-stander as my church is red lining, in desperate need of rebranding and resuscitation.
I’m going to go out on a limb. For God. Invite someone to church with me.
Because at the end of the day, if Jesus can stretch out His arms and die on a limb for me, I can go out on one, for Him.
Tomorrow is Christmas and I am wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a great new year. And by the way please do attend the church of your choice and thank God for everything we have and the beautiful world he has given to us.
I saw this in an E-Mail I receive called “Laugh & Lift” by Chris Long.
Anyway, I thought this message was so important that I wanted to share it with everyone. After getting permission to copy this item here it is:
The Church’s Orphan Mandate
Let this sink in – the top # is children waiting for adoption in the United States and the bottom # is the number of churches in the state.
There are more churches in America than there are children who need to be adopted! If every church in the U.S. saw to it to just take care of adopting ONE child, then there would be NO kids awaiting adoption in foster care and there would actually be church families on a waiting list waiting for kids to even be available to adopt. That means the solution is possible – every church can be a part of taking care of orphaned and abandoned kids. The government doesn’t have the strategy and success because it is the mandate of the CHURCH to care for orphans, widows, poor and oppressed – it’s never been the government’s mantle. We can do this church! This is how we change generations!
The children included in this map are awaiting adoption in the foster care system. Because these are the state agencies, there would be little or no fees involved for adoptive families. Contact your local DSS or foster care agency to learn of the waiting children in your state.
Want to receive a Christian inspirational item AND great clean humor in an email to you each day of the week? It’s easy and FREE! Read all about Laugh & Lift at http://www.laughandlift.com
Forgive me if this is more rambling and not as structured as I would like it to be.
I grew up in a Christian home and church was a big part of my life even though I did not appreciate it at the time. As I’ve gotten older (ok. . . . downright old) I think about church a lot and I wish I could find a church like the one I grew up in but they apparently do not exist anymore as they all have a contemporary service style now.
I have been going lately to a Wesleyan church here in Waterford and although I like it I wonder if the “perfect” church is out there for me. The answer of course is that there is no perfect church there is only a perfect God. Over time I will adjust to the guitars and drums and the new modern music, I just wish they would throw in one of the old hymns once in a while like “In the Garden” or “The Old Rugged Cross”.
I have recently gone to a small group and the discussions were very interesting and I got to know some of the other church members better. It is nice to be able to discuss Christian ideals and principles with others and the sharing of ideas is helpful to me. The lessons were taken from a DVD by John Ortberg and he is good at presenting and stimulating discussions.
Yesterday I have a meeting with Pastor Paul and will be joining the Welcome / Greeting committee. That seems like an odd fit for someone like me who has trouble talking to people. Maybe that is what I need to motivate me into a more outgoing person; that would be good after all these years.
After watching my parents and their church activities over the years I have come to realize that you get out of church more if you serve or put more of “you’ into the church.
I will close this for now.
May God Bless You,