Monthly Archives: October 2020

How to Find a Good Church If You’ve Never Been to Church

Are you looking for a good church?

Do you want to know more about God? Are you not sure who Jesus is and want to find more about him? Do you want to know more about being a Christian? Do you want to experience God’s love and grace?
I’m glad you’re reading this! I want to help you find a good church. Church is a place to worship God, learn more about him and his love for you, and grow spiritually. It’s also a place where you find support and encouragement through the ups and downs of life. It’s like a hospital for the sick. You may find some grumpy people there, and churches are not perfect of course, but it can be a life-changing experience to become part of a church family. Ideally, it will not only help meet your spiritual needs, but other needs as well. For example, if you lose your job and need food, the church might be able to help. If you need free counseling, most churches will provide it. If you need a ride to the doctor, someone from your church should be able to take you, etc.

The first thing to do is to decide on a church to visit. I highly recommend finding a church that truly preaches the Bible (doesn’t add anything, doesn’t take things away) and follows what God says, not what man says. Of course this may be tricky to decide on which one to visit, if you’ve never been there. I am a member of the non-denominational Church of Christ, and have attended and worshipped with many Churches of Christ thorughout the years. I have found Churches of Christ to be scripturally-based. (This is not say that Churches of Christ are the only good churches by any means. Rather, I have found the Churches of Christ to be the most Bible-following, encouraging and friendly churches. Try to find one that is in your zip code, if possible. Of course, it doesn’t have to be.

The next step is to call the church office

A church secretary will more than likely answer. Tell her (or him) that you are looking for a church and would like to study the Bible. Request a one-on-one Bible study with a minister. He will either invite you to the church building at a convenient time, or possibly come to your home, or even meet you at a place such as Starbucks. You might also be invited to become part of a small group Bible study and fellowship group that meets in someone’s home. If you are a woman and think you might feel more comfortable studying with another woman, tell them so. If you have any questions about what church is like and what is expected, ask them.

If you would prefer not to study the Bible one on one right now (although I encourage it) and just want to visit the church, ask the minister or church office worker if someone can meet you on your first visit. Tell them you are nervous / feeling awkward about visiting and would like someone to meet you at the door. If you do not have reliable transportation, ask for a ride. Someone will meet you at the door, introduce you to people, and show you around. I highly encourage coming for Bible class (usually before services) as well.

If you follow these steps and have a negative experience, please, do not give up! Please, try another church. Choose another church and follow the steps again. Hopefully you will find a loving church family.

If you don’t feel comfortable with going to a church at the moment (though I think you should at least give it a try) you can also try a mail order Bible Study through World Bible School.

Thank-you for taking the time to read this! I hope you are able to find a church, get to know more about God. learn more about God’s grace and his love for you.

Ash Wednesday, Sacred Heart Church and Me

Ash Wednesday Story

The following is a story about Ash Wednesday, how little a child knows about Ash Wednesday and the guilt that can be attached to not fulfilling one’s obligations. All this little girl knew before the lesson was that on Ash Wednesday, they put ashes on your forehead at Sacred Heart Church. Afterwards, well, that’s the point of the story.

The school I attended was called Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (after the church). Dad was a strict Catholic. Mom converted to his religion so we were raised Catholic. Our church was a beautiful cathedral. It’s many attendees were very proud of it, especially on Holy Days such as Ash Wednesday.

Since Ash Wednesday was a school day, all the children from the elementary school went to church together. I wasn’t particularly religious. On Ash Wednesday, I was looking for a way to get out of church services as usual. Church was dull, boring and pointless. I was always searching for a means of escape.

A friend of mine had attended midnight mass the night before with her parents. Back then, this was sometimes done for convenience sake on holy days such as Ash Wednesday. So, of course she already had ashes on her forehead. Aha! That gave me the idea of how to avoid the dreaded Ash Wednesday mass.

Quickly, I ducked behind my desk, lifted the top lid and began rummaging for a pencil. The pencil was swiftly rubbed between my fingers and “ash” swiped across my forehead. Immediately the little girl heart inside me was filled with the heaviest guilt ever.

I was about to lie to the nuns of the Church of Our Lady of Sacred Heart. Surely that was a ticket straight to hell! Not to mention that in order to pull this off, there would be multiple lies to the entire class and the whole family about my Ash Wednesday whereabouts.

The turnaround point

Oh dear God, what had I done? This would mean a life of guilt and an eternity in the fiery pits of hell for sure. The first person to see the ashes was a friend. This is the girl who attended Ash Wednesday services the night before. All she said was, “Oh, were you at church last night?, we didn’t see you.”

Now every other classmate had to be told the same bold faced lie about how I had attended the Ash Wednesday midnight mass. The level of guilt was at this point enormously hard to bear for a small girl. I was literally shaking in my seat.

Next the nun, who was our teacher called out, “Would every student who attended Ash Wednesday midnight mass at Sacred Heart Church or any other church please raise your hand?”. My hand went up, of course, but I was so ashamed at this point that my face was beet red. The nun actually came around and inspected us all to see that our ashes were intact.

Those little girl knees were knocking! My jaw dropped as the good sister’s next words rung out. “We will all be proceeding to Ash Wednesday mass now. Those of you who attended last night may stay seated while the rest receive their ashes.”

The whole charade was pointless, I had to go to church anyway. Arghhh!

Lesson learned.

Churches In UK Benefit from Individuals Doing Community Service

The role of church in the community of UK can do more than open its doors to preach the gospel on set days of the week. It can also do more than perform certain duties like providing soup kitchens, homeless shelters, clothing, housing help, help paying bills, etc. for low-income families amp; individuals and counseling.
While there are many other services the role of church offers to the community, another role can give back to the church while allowing the church to play a beneficial role in the life of an individual possibly altering the path the individual had previously followed.

The pastor who speaks as the voice of the congregation may lead the role of church head, in the individual’s case. The leadership and character of the pastor can ultimately shape the familiar path of the individual and allow them to walk off course where as without that guidance they would possibly resort back to old habits and set ways.

Positive experience afterall

The positive or negative experience is usually part of a mandatory sentencing, which comes as community service. A positive experience is demonstrated when the feedback and concern is genuine, accepting and understanding from the pastor, song leader, church office workers and congregation members. A negative experience is demonstrated when there is finger pointing, staring and criticizing.

Regular church meetings where church activities, church upkeep and repairs are discussed may be a good format in determining where to put a community service individual to work within the church while they are serving their time.

Community service as regulative in UK

The tasks can range from yard work – trimming trees amp; bushes, watering and mowing the lawn, janitorial duties – window cleaning, taking the garbage out, vacuuming floors, cleaning bathrooms – kitchen duties – making food, serving food, cleaning kitchen amp; dining area to running errands and answering the office phones. It depends on the needs of the church, which can be filled by community service work.

While the grunt work of the church may be met with community service it should not be undervalued. The person performing community service should be shown appreciation for their labor; with kind words, a pat on the back, a meal, an invitation to church service and a friendly smile all of which can influence a change in the person receiving them.

Under appreciation and devaluing the community service worker by non-acknowledgement except to give instructions for the day can lead them to believe the role of church in society is closed off to those the church feels is deserving by their standards. The icy-ness of those involved with the church can lead the community service individual to form an opinion that is negative about church and cause them to shut out any future positive contact with any church besides causing a non-diversion of the familiar path they are on.

Reform and Renewal of the Christian Church

The church’s condition slowly diminished early in the time period. After the Babylonian captivity and the Great Schism, the church’s prestige was damaged. Martin Luther furthered this conflict by being one the earliest and most prominent Protestant leaders. He was a god fearing monk that believed that religion should be based on the scriptures, not the Pope. Later in his life he voiced his opinion and was excommunicated. He wrote the ninety-five thesis and translated the bible into German. His ideas were so popular because of a widespread resentment of clerical privileges and wealth. However, his ideas were so-well taken that when peasants revolted in Germany; they used Luther as a scapegoat. They said that they were being influenced by his opinions so much. This Luther-spirit caused a hate for Italian papacy. John Calvin took to Lutheranism, but believed that some of his ideals were wrong. Therefore, he created Calvinism. This spread toward the north and then to the east. Many other religions spawned off this (as defined below).

  1. The German Peasants’ Revolt of 1525- In this revolt, the Twelve Articles were written. They complained about how nobles seized common lands and increased rents. The peasants believed their commands conformed to the Scriptures and cited Luther to prove it. This made Luther side with the peasants, but he also said that armed forces shouldn’t be used.
  2. Pluralism- Pluralism led to corruption of many church leaders because they formed bureaucracies and sometimes held many church positions in different Christian faiths.
  3. Brethren of the Common Life- They believed that religion should be individual, personal, and based on the scriptures (like early Protestants).
  4. John Knox- He dominated Scottish Church reform.
  5. Pope Paul III- Established the Holy Office.
  6. Ulrich Zwingli- He introduced the reformation in Switzerland and reformed Zurich to preach the scriptures of the New Testament.
  7. Archbishop Cranmer- Wrote the Book of common prayers, invited Protestant Theologians to England, and simplified the liturgy.
  8. John Tetzel- He was one of the major indulgences sellers. He manipulated the system by putting specific prices on sins and having extreme advertising. This is one of the major things that made Luther mad.
  9. Martin Luther- He was the one of the largest dissenters of the times and his actions lead to the creation the protestant and Lutheranism forms of Christianity. He said that the church power should be in the scriptures and he made the 95 theses.
  10. Transubstantiation/consubstantiation- Catholics thought that the bread and wine was Jesus (Trans). Luther thought that the bread and wine simply called Jesus to “real Presence”. These lead to many different beliefs of many people.
  11. Henry VIII- When Henry VIII got divorced, it was enmeshed with political issues resulting in a complete break with Rome.
  12. Charles V- He outlawed Martin Luther. He inherited Spain, territories and people. He was the last medieval emperor. He continued Burgundian policy and slowed reform in needed areas. He also was involved in the disintegration of the Roman Empire. He also sacked Rome.
  13. Mary Tudor- She reestablished Roman Catholicism in England. She married Philip of Spain and executed many Protestants making her unpopular.
  14. Pope Alexander VI- Publicly acknowledged mistresses and child, and reached a new height of impropriety.
  15. Council of Trent- It tried to reform the church and secure reconciliation with the Protestants, but was unsuccessful. Made bishops visit every religious house to prevent absenteeism. The doctrine of Trent served as the base of Catholic religion for four centuries.
  16. Counter-reformation- Catholic measures to get heretics to return to Catholic.
  17. Holy office- A powerful instrument of Counter-reformation, it had the power to arrest, imprison and execute any Catholic. It destroyed heresy in the papal states.
  18. Elizabethan Settlement- Legislation for conformity to English Church from outward.
  19. Act of Restraint of Appeals- Established the kind as the absolute leader of England and that no appeals shall be made to the papacy. It made the Crown the highest power of the land.
  20. Benefices- These offices lead to further absenteeism because high religious leaders would never go to them. They only collected revenues and hired a lowly priest to do the work.
  21. Peace of Augsburg- This officially recognized Lutheranism.
  22. Ninety-five Theses- They were a major milestone of dissention. They were translated into many languages and read everywhere. Many who read them agreed and followed Lutheranism.
  23. Preacherships- They required that preachers give 100, fifty minute sermons a year. This idea attracted many and converted many priests into protestant leaders.

Define the basic beliefs of the following Christian religions:

  1. Roman Catholicism- The bread and wine are the actually body and blood of Christ. Salvation comes from good deeds and faith. Church is the entire community of Christian believers. Religious life is hyper ordinate to secular.
  2. Lutheranism- Salvation comes from faith alone. Authority comes from the word of God in the bible alone. People serve God on their individual calling.
  3. Calvinism- The body and blood of Christ are spiritually (not physically) represented in the bread and wine. No one can work towards salvation because at the beginning of time, God determined who was saved and who was damned. God has absolute power. If you committed a very small crime, you were investigated and punished. Hard work was pleasing to god.
  4. Anabaptism- Only adults could be Anabaptists. No child was baptized. Only a few people would receive the inner light. Women were admitted to the ministry. Each community was independent.
  5. Church of England- Individual reading and interpretation of the Bible (Lollards). It was Lay Dominated. Divorce was legal.
  6. Presbyterian Church of Scotland- Ministers, not bishops, governed the religion. It was a national church. It was similar to Calvinism.

Everyday Church

Maintain a relationship with God

Many of us believe that we have maintained our connection to God when we attend church on Sundays, bless our food, and say Amen at all the appropriate times.
It is a wonderful thing to fellowship weekly with people who are also on their journey to awakening to the spiritual beings God created us to be. However to strengthen our spiritual growth, we must “go to church” everyday in our quiet moments with the Holy Spirit. It is here we sit with Him and listen to what He would have us do today; what he would have us say and who whom. When we order our day in such a manner, we are letting the Voice of God decide our day for us. In doing so, we are assured that we will offer only our love to our brothers. We are assured that we are in a forgiving state of mind. We are assured that we are not judging others. We are also assured that we can take a moment to meet with the Holy Spirit at anytime throughout the day when we need to be reminded that we are children of God and are not here to suffer. When we make this our experience, it is our experience.

Listen to the voice of God

We make this our experience by changing our mind from thoughts of the ego to thoughts experienced through our listening to the Voice of God. Thoughts of anger, hate, and unforgiveness are wakeup calls to us that we have become disconnected from God. It’s evidence to us that we are in a “prodigal son” state and have yet to return home. We change our lives by changing how we perceive our lives. Our quiet moments with the Holy Spirit, is where we ask to see ourselves and our brothers differently. When we do this, the “Prodigal Son” has returned.