Easter is coming up pretty soon (couple weeks). Everyone is buying eggs to color and hide and I kind of like that also; I remember an Easter egg hunt at my Grandma Knights Methodist church in Mascotte FL. What fun, what memories. Of course as an adult I now know the real significance of Easter – a time of sadness that turns into a time of joy as Jesus sacrifices himself for us on the cross.
Waterford Weslyan Church has a huge Easter Egg hunt for children at a local park. This is a way to reach out and do something for the community much as Jesus has reached out to us in saving us. If I can get it to work I am going to try to insert here a YouTube video about Easter.
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.
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,
Do King James Only churches post their sermons on ThouTube?
Scandal at the National Amateur Handbell Choir Tournament. Looks like the winning team hired a couple of ringers.
If Trump would just identify as a woman, we’d have the perfect storm.
On the positive side, they’ve discovered a new perpetual energy source: All the founding fathers spinning in their graves.
First day of VBS, and I got 3 kids to rededicate themselves to staying off the lawn.
This election is pretty much proof that someone went back a million years in a time machine and stepped on a butterfly.
Lady next door uses a 24-hour lawn service. Doesn’t bother me, except when . . . In the midnight hour, she cries, “Mow, mow, mow!”
From BLOG “Sincerely Reine”
I liked this posting so much I wanted to share it with the world. . . . . OK I realize not many people actually read my blog but hey those that do will like this one from Reine. . .
I have this friend whom I’ve known since about 7th grade. I was still living in Canada, and we weren’t that close then, but ever since I moved I feel like our friendship got stronger. There were my other friends from Canada also, who I talked to from time to time last year, but slowly they all started to fade away and Ariel ( not her real name ) was the only one who stuck with me. We talk everyday. She tells me about her day, and I tell her about mine. We’re on very different time zones, but somehow we make it work.
Then there’s yesterday, when we were talking on snapchat (snapchat is an app where you send photos with words on them, basically like texting except there always has to be a picture). I saw her view my snaps, and she wouldn’t reply back. She did reply twice, but it was just a blank black picture with no words. I was really worried that I did something that made her angry at me but today, I texted her and it was like nothing had happened. We had our normal conversation and everything went back to normal. I didn’t ask her about why she was ignoring me… yet.
Looking back, I was worried for absolutely no reason. It’s situations like these that make you realize how much someone can mean to you. I’m thankful that Ariel stuck with me and became one of my best friends. Now that I’m talking about it, I’m realizing that there is a lot of people out there that mean a lot to me, but they don’t necessarily know that. Appreciate your friends, your family and those who care about you because you might never realize what you have until it’s lost.
All the love
Share the awesomeness
This is my post from a group I belong to for the Waterford Weslyan Church.
Sorry for being first to post again and I promise I will edit out a lot of the notes I have been making but here goes. . .
How do we keep kids from falling away from the church? I’ve been making a lot of notes on this since I saw the video and the more I think about it the more complex the answer tends to be. This is just so complicated that I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer to this. I can only give a few examples of my childhood that I believe helped me over the years.
I was fortunate that both my Mom and Dad were active in our church and watching how they lived and treated people was certainly a big plus for me. I do think it is important that kids are exposed to church activities as much as possible; I remember going to our churches monthly covered dish or spaghetti suppers where we were around Christians of all shapes and sizes. I helped my dad most Saturdays take care of the church lawn and gardens; a simple thing but it teaches you how to serve the church and God.
When I was being shipped to Utapao Thailand in 1967 one of my moms relatives (Rev Thomas P. Dean) presented me with a small pocket New Testament and while I may not have always read it – I carried it with me wherever I went and still have it to this day and I take it out and thumb through it. It is little things like this that plant these tiny seeds somewhere in the back of your mind that help our faith journey.
Sometimes just being around the right mix of people makes a big difference. I remember when a group of men were talking after church and Manual Beito said to my dad “Henry, I’m a Cuban and you’re a Cracker and we are going to be friends”. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
These are just some miscellaneous thoughts. I hope I haven’t bored everyone.