If I Find God, It’ll be at This Church!

My family and I have had a very busy weekend! I’m kind of being lazy about my blog by lumping it all together so I’ll at least make little subtitles.

Serve Saturday!

Serve Saturday is a function put on by the church the first Saturday of every month. They have a “block party” at a park near where I live. They offer pancakes (How I discovered the church), clothes for those in need, and it’s a pretty comfortable networking opportunity. I call it networking because it’s a relaxed atmosphere to meet people from the church. I got to meet several new people courtesy of introductions made by two lovely ladies I met on my first trip to the church!

  • I got to “reconnect” with the guy that is really the catalyst to me choosing this church for my son. If it weren’t for his offer of pancakes, no religious strings attached, I probably would’ve overlooked the church. He was a pretty relaxed guy. He openly discussed religion, my lack thereof, and ways people from religious organizations could improve their attempts to bring people into the church. It was a pleasant, candid conversation. Just like the day he offered pancakes, there was absolutely no feeling of being judged for my lack of faith. My son also seems to think he’s a pretty cool guy.
  • I got to meet this pretty awesome woman who was, from what I understand, in charge of the pancake making! I’ve actually seen her at my son’s school before for a family day. I remember her socks! I’m kind of a sock fanatic. Like everyone else I had met, she was really nice and open to my family helping out next month for Serve Saturdays.
  • The youth pastor! I definitely wanted to meet him. I had emailed him about possible children’s services focused on forgiveness – Explaining to my son that instead of trying to be meaner, he should forgive kids that are mean because they’re probably struggling with an insecurity of their own. So, I explained that I’d prefer he learn those lessons through church because I’m not familiar enough with the religious “verbiage” to convey the message accurately or without bias to my son. Well, I had heard back once, but didn’t after my response. I thought I had run off the pastor with my lack of faith! Luckily, the misunderstanding was clarified. He was a pleasant guy. His testimony was meaningful, which matters to me. I’ve had a doorstep preacher give me his testimony about him playing a prank and hiding a puppet and getting fired. The details aren’t important, if you’re looking for convincing testimony, it wouldn’t have been from that guy. This youth pastor though, truly interesting testimony. I don’t feel like it’s my place to share it, so you’ll have to take my word on it.
  • I also got to meet the lead pastor! Do pastors have groupies? Can that be something that gets started? Not the icky, rock-n-roll groupies! But I think the pastor is awesome! As I said last Sunday, extremely personable guy! Even one-on-one. He’s not intimidating. I had to compliment him on his enthusiasm for service! He laughed at my husband’s reluctance to attend a church with a band.

Easter Service!

I have to say, even as someone who doesn’t believe, this church is feeling more and more like home every time I go! I love the judgement-free atmosphere. I saw everyone from a woman in gothic attire to men in the typical Easter suits. People were young, old and in-between. My husband commented that he saw more tattooed people at church than he has at Bike Week! Sarcasm, of course, but there were a lot of people with tattoos and no one batted an eye! I thought it was especially welcoming that everyone I had met yesterday at Serve Saturday remembered me and said hi! I enjoyed introducing my husband to everyone I had met. Cheesy as it may be, but I was so happy he had come with us I had to introduce him to everyone so they knew he was there.

Service was, as expected, focused on Jesus rising from the dead. Although not along the lines of our sins as the pastor intended, but a lot of what he said today resonated with me! So, like I’ve been doing the past couple Sundays, I’m going to share some take aways from service today! By the way, I do intend to make that a part of every Sunday blog: Take aways from that day’s service.

We are Judas – Yea, that guy who betrayed Jesus! The pastor said that Judas put too much faith in religion. After he had betrayed Jesus, he tried to take the coins he had gotten for doing so back to the leaders of his religion and tried to undo his betrayal. They told him it was already done and no longer their problem. I honestly don’t know how that part points out his overabundance of faith in religion, but if you’re more in tune with Christianity than I am, I figured I’d include that point. The pastor said that God’s commandments shouldn’t be looked at like a strict set of guidelines, instead, a man of God would simply find that it was easy to live by them. I think a lot of people put too much faith in religion. This resonates with me more as a victim of those people than a person afflicted with having done it. I don’t fall neatly within their religious moral code so they dislike me or choose to be rude and make snide remarks. It reminded me of the picture I’ve included below. I saw it on FaceBook not too long ago. I think this church is the living embodiment of the picture’s sentiment. 1010617_10152146093098810_1710449867_nWe are Pilate – Pilate was the judge that struck the gavel and condemned Jesus, but when riots were about to break out, he washed his hands in front of the people and said that Jesus’ blood wasn’t on his hands. He freakin’ condemned him! No matter how he rationalized it to himself, he was still just as culpable. I think this definitely translates into everyday life, for believers and non-believers. You’ll have to live with the guilt of your actions because they’ll have repercussions. It’s better to own them, admit your responsibility, and work toward bettering yourself. Try to avoid making the same mistakes. Make your mistakes mean something, learn from them! Be a better person tomorrow than you were today and you’re winning at life.

We are Barabbas – I think this also applies to every living person on the earth! Barabbas was supposed to be crucified, but Jesus was instead and Barabbas was set free. He never thanked Jesus for taking his place. He never showed gratitude. I think we all have our moments of ungratefulness. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point in our lives where we don’t take something for granted, but we can aim to lessen those occasions. Realize that you’re not owed ANYTHING and when good things come to you, be grateful. Whether you’re grateful to the person who gave you a gift or grateful to the God you believe in for blessing you with the good things in your life. The more you’re grateful for in life, the happier you’ll be. Whether it’s a new job (Minimum wage is better than unemployment!) or finding an empty bed in a homeless shelter (A roof over your head and a bed is better than outside on the concrete/grass), be grateful.

After Service Festivities!

Wow! It was truly astonishing what the church had done for the people! Food trucks, bounce houses, an Easter egg hunt with over 10k eggs, face painting, and a mechanical bull! It was incredible! Over 2,000 people came to church today! I had enough time to accompany my son to the Easter egg hunt, wait in line for tacos with my husband, and take my son to a bounce house. My neck, my feet and my knees were KILLING me by 2pm when the event was winding down. There were people everywhere! It was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, because I spent so much time in line for food, I really don’t have much else about my time during the Easter festivities to share. I chatted with a few friends, but that’s about the extent of it.

Evening Meeting

It wasn’t called that, but I’m afraid too many event specific names might give away the church’s identity. Anywho, the purpose of this meeting was to learn about the church’s mission and the message they want to share. A quick note: They fed us dinner! It was delicious! I had chicken alfredo, some other kind of pasta, and two espresso cupcakes!

The important stuff! The pastor started it off with mildly offensive jokes about nearly every Christian denomination. They all started with the “How many -insert religious group- does it take to change a lightbulb?” They were hilarious to me and quite frankly, if you can’t laugh at the jokes, you take yourself way too seriously. The pastor said the church wouldn’t be for those who were thoroughly offended, most likely because he makes a lot of jokes during his sermons and they’d probably not enjoy it.

I found one part particularly interesting: How to Win People to Christ. It’s not randomly knocking on doors, because let’s face it, no one likes it! He gave us four steps – Accept the personal responsibility (As a Christian you’re supposed to want to bring Jesus and people together), build a personal relationship (Actually knowing someone!), sharing your personal story or testimony (No one wants to hear some random verses you like, it’s more compelling when you tell people how your relationship with God/Jesus changed your life), and finally, personally invite someone (Self-explanatory). Oddly enough, I’m doing that with a friend! I REALLY, REALLY love this church. A friend of mine had a bad experience with a church she went to and hasn’t been back to any church. She’s told me how involved she was, so I think Christianity is important to her. So, I think she’d really like this church! I have taken responsibility for trying to get her back in church, I already have a personal relationship with her, I’ve shared my testimony for the church (I don’t believe in God, so I can’t be a witness to that), and I’ve personally invited her to go with me! A woman I met my first time going told me I’m evangelizing. I tell anyone who seems interested in church, but hasn’t found a place they’re comfortable. If I, as an atheist, can feel comfortable in this church, I think anyone can!

I also met the Junior Pastor (I think that was his title). While I greatly appreciate the Lead Pastor’s enthusiasm, I like the Junior Pastor’s demeanor more for someone I might talk to about faith. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of believing, I want to talk to someone who seems like an analytical person. While I’m not entirely sure he’d identify with that title, he seemed to understand my lack of faith being rooted in such things as over analyzing. I think it’d be neat to find someone I could have a discussion with. Maybe one day this blog could be called Following a Faithful Family: How supporting my son’s faith helped me find mine. Whether this Junior Pastor is the catalyst to my Christian journey or not, I’d bet if I found God, it’d be at this church.

Some really awesome points about the things the church is involved in: An organization in Africa setting up medical care facilities, a school, and then a church! They’re also involved with another organization helping people in Uganda that are victims of human-trafficking.

On a nifty budget note: While most churches allow for 50 to 60% of their income to go toward the salaries of their staff pastors, this church has a cap at 35% of the church’s income.

Hope you had a happy Easter!

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