Day after, day 1 on the road to recovery

Swelling. Bruising. Stuffiness. Pain.

All the things I’m feeling within my chopped liver face, but nevertheless, I am here I am now and I am healing.

With my day off I slept. A lot. But I still had a follow-up to go to and a dentist appointment, but all in all it was a restful day. Tomorrow, until further notice, I will be on light duty at work; this’ll be working in the kitchen, meal prep, et al. I will still see my students but not as frequently (bummer!) and it upsets me a bit…but I need to heal, I keep myself in check with this regularly, as I want to go back to what I was doing prior to getting injured…but I need to heal.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

I’m not a churchaholic; figuring out the type of church I want to help cultivate

During the week my schedule contains going to church (that is, interacting with people who for the most part share a common belief system with me) quite a bit. My weekly “church” schedule looks something like this:

Sunday – I go to Flowing Grace for an early morning Bible study followed up by a regular service with everyone.

Monday – I go to a home church that primarily focuses on prayer and worship by way of music.

Tuesday – nada zip zilch.

Wednesday – I help out with a high school youth group at Orchard Community Church.

Thursday – I help out with a soup kitchen at Trinity Episcopalian Church. There’s a brief service preluding lunch, spiritual food before physical food as I like to think of it. 🙂

Friday – nada zip zilch (but occasionally I visit the local mosque on invitation of my friends).

Saturday -When I can I like going to Orchard Community Church with friends for the evening service.

***

Now some friends are concerned that I do too much in regards to my church related activities, and honestly I wish I could do more. More in the sense that I want to engage with my church peeps apart from the given day we gather together, because life and community does truly happen in a church setting, but there’s so much more apart from church.

With my many interactions now I’ve started to piece together a “Frankenstein” church that I would like to help cultivate. I know The Perfect Church doesn’t exist, but drawing from what I see and help out with and engage, if I were to help create and cultivate a church these are some things I would put emphasis on, not a comprehensive list but a good deal of what I like with the churches I’m involved with:

– Smaller and in the community, the megachurch model isn’t for me.
– Inclusive to all.
– Communion/Lord’s Supper also inclusive for all.
– Worship in the form of music isn’t over-the-top.
– Time dedicated to prayer, as well as time dedicated to praying for and over others.
– God the Father recognized and invoked.
– God the Son recognized and invoked.
– God the Holy Spirit recognized and invoked.
– Soup kitchen, immigration assistance, other communal/social issues addressed.
– A space for the local chapter of PFLAG to have their meetings.
– Community local and global assisted.
– Incense, cantoring, Icons or portraits of God and other saints.
– Art from the community decorating the halls.
Common Book of Prayer; not essential, but certainly helpful.
– Shorter/Homiletic messages.
– Deeper theological messages.
– Opportunities for Q&A based messages where people text in their question[s].
– Discipleship for all people on their spiritual journey.
– Teaching of older church practices; lectio divina, meditation, labyrinth, etc.
– Opportunities to start grassroots ministries.
– Room for doubting and for questioning.

Now I recognize while I may lean in this direction as to how I want to cultivate a church, it comes down to the people within the church to help carry it out. I recognize the silliness of the joke that says “I want to be a pastor because my day of work is only on Sunday.” The pastor is an element to the church (people) but he shouldn’t be the focal point, God should be this focal point, and taking the Gospel message to where the rubber hits the road (The Great Commission) is how we should live it out.

This is a dream, a desire, a part of me I cannot (nor will I) shake loose.

~Nathanael~

 

Of pickles and churches; being a part – being apart

Recently a friend of mine invited me to “like” his new company. A pickle company. In the info for said company it made known that he lost his job as a graphic designer in August and he decided to do something “new and exciting”…perhaps not what I think when I think of pickles, but whatever floats your boat.

I’m not Donald Trump, but in a way I am a skeptic when it comes to smaller companies, and lately, smaller churches. My skepticism (which I’ll address first in terms of the pickle company) is as follows; what sets your pickles from other pickles? That is, what do you have to offer that isn’t currently available for people who purchase pickles? Why would compel someone to purchase your pickles over an established brand, say Mr. Pickle or Claussen?

I also inquired of my friend that I bet he rather have investors over someone liking his Facebook page for his company. Word of mouth is important, but you have to have a product to back up people liking it, and even when word of mouth gets out, negative word of mouth will spread faster than positive, so is his product up to snuff to compete in the “pickle industry” as it were?
(I hope he gets back to me and my questions)

***

Now here’s how churches are added to this mix in this post. Church size, while not a true indicator as to how well a church is doing, is in a way a barometer to a church’s function within the local community, the community at large and even on a global scale – is the church and its members there for themselves or for others?
Now in my church experiences over the years I’ve been to a LOT of diverse churches; for a semester I attended Willowcreek and I actually got something out of the “mega church” scene, in another semester I attended a church that had less than 40 people in attendance.

Yet in both cases, the body of Christ in attendance was very involved outside of the building in which we gathered on the weekends, granted on a smaller scale in the smaller church, but still they did what they could to add to the quality of life to those who weren’t in attendance and who didn’t show up on Sunday mornings.

My issue is this, when small churches exist only to fulfill their own needs, when they’re intentionally apart of what’s going on outside the church building instead of being a part as they and we who are followers of Christ…that isn’t what the function of the church should be and that is NOT why Christ came in the first place; the petty self-serving natures of some churches pisses me off, and personally (personally mind you) I think churches like that should close if they’re doing that…

Yet, if small churches could strip the layers of prejudice & church politics, and come together in consolidation and unification to bring honor and glory to God, to serve Christ by way of serving others, to act glocally (locally & globally) there may be hope for small churches of this nature yet!
I think that this isn’t some pipe dream, but an achievable goal for churches that are small and want to change, that want to do as Christ did and take the message outside the building to where it truly belongs. Ego’s need to be cast asunder, attitudes and behaviors need to be examined and possibly reexamined.

Being a follower of Christ isn’t so much about what I want to get out of it, but what I can do to give back, to be the hands and feet of Christ where needed be, to be a voice for the outcasts and marginalized in society where I can.
I do have plans to further my education in the form of an M.Div, and while it is not necessary, I find that it will be beneficial to me and those I minister unto even more so than if I didn’t have the degree.

I have hope that small churches who are apart rather than a part have a chance at getting it right. It may be a season or two of change that’s painful, but sometimes change is painful but necessary, and if change didn’t hurt we’d be more apt to change. To root out desires and traditions that get in the way of loving God and loving others is necessary, furthering the work of God, now that’s what we’re called to do!

~Nathanael~