Why don’t you reconsider church?

New friends on a wonderful outing

New friends on a wonderful outing

This may surprise some of you, but the Applebums go to church on Sundays. We have been going regularly for a year and a half.  And I know many of my peers probably don’t want to hear this, but it has greatly improved the quality of our family life while hooking us into the community, which is in desperate need of our fresh blood and talents.

I grew up in a church. My mom always had us in all the children’s programs: Sunday School,  children’s choir, bell choir, youthgroup.  The church was a constant for me, in a childhood that had few constants. I have such fond memories of the hundred of potlucks over the years. I especially loved the table full of deserts to chose from. Mmmm, so much little old lady love in that krispy treat and no one really cares if you take two.  If you want to see a place where time has stood still, go to a potluck at your local church. Seriously, they are exactly like you remember. I actually teared up first time I walked into one with the little Applebums. It was like walking into the past.

This time we came back

I know what keeps many of my peers out of church. Many of us have negative perceptions of  Christians and what that implies politically and socially. Many of us do not feel like we have anything in common with the people filling into the churches. And finally, many of us are simply overscheduled and unwilling to give up a whole morning of that most precious of commodity, weekend time.

And I get that. Those things have kept the Applebums from attending on a regular basis. Add to that, my rebellious spirit and spiritual (read new age-y) views as two other obstacles that kept me from going to church. The fact is, we knew we should go to church, but we really were getting on fine without it, thankyouverymuch.

But then we had kids and we didn’t have family close by to help. As we struggled to adjust to the demands of parenthood, we felt ourselves drifting off-track and knew we needed help getting our priorities in order. We also needed more things to do as a family. So we started attending church and this time it took. I say this time because we had attended that same church many times in the past. But this time, the church felt different and the messages were reaching my heart and mind. And this time, we started coming back.

Backbones of the Communities

I believe churches (and schools) are the backbone of our communities. These are a few of the services churches provide to your community:

  • activities, programs and support for families that’s free or very inexpensive
  • tons of teen outreach to get kids involved in community service and good works
  • distribution of food, supplies and hope to those most in need whether it is the homeless in your community, orphan’s in Africa, and everyone in-between.
  • An hour a week devoted to being your better self, a better family member and a better person.  And if you have kids, they will watch them for FREE so you might have 60 delicious quiet moments devoted to reflection and a better relationship with God.

The media generally portrays Christians as a negative, exclusionary bunch. What I hear from my pastor are calls for compassion, inclusion and service. What I’ve experienced from the congregation is kindness, respect and generosity. And the church is plugged in to those most in need.

A few month ago, the church bulletin had a request for towels for the local tent city residents. That afternoon I drove to Sears, bought six towels and dropped them off the next day. The thought of providing someone with the basic dignities of life that they deserved made me feel useful rather than helpless. I gave what I could and it was easily done. These active networks are there, you just need to plug into them.

And a shout out to the blue hairs in the house

One of my favorite things about going to church is interacting with the blue hairs. You see, Old Bonita likes the eleven o’clock service. I enjoy seeing all the elderly ladies dressed up in their finery, greeting each other as they take their places. I like traditional music (read no electric guitars). And I like knowing people who have been fighting the good fight for 30 years.

Our society overlooks the elderly among us. We do not value their wisdom and experience, rather we allow them to be cut off and isolated from the rest of us. That’s wrong ya’ll. They deserve better and our society is paying the price, even though we may not realize it. Church is a great way to start reconnecting the the elderly of your community, who need you as much as you need them. And it takes so little, yo. Just a “Good  morning” and a smile. Amazing things will start to happen.

So start looking

There is a church out there for everyone. I have many friends (read progressive, liberal and/or gay) who have found like-minded congregations.  If you haven’t found a church that feels right, keep trying. Or try an old one again. Our church is a very different church than it was three years ago. As they searched for a new pastor, they sought to diversify and reach out to the next generation (which is us, Gen Xer’s, it’s us). The new pastor is 40 and modern, while totally respectful of the members who have been there forever. Churches know they need us as much a we need them.

IMG_1581

The annual Easter Egg Hunt open to all local families

Going to church has greatly improved our family’s quality of life. It provides us family activities on a regular basis. I am taking something away from the sermon every week, to reflect on in days to come. The church has given both myself and Mr. Applebum numerous opportunities to volunteer and make meaningful donations for immediate needs. The kids love the programs, from playing in the nursery, to parent’s night out, through to the dessert table at the beloved potlucks. And to top it all off, I am making some dear friends, who are not just like me, which is  good for us all.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mae
    Jun 22, 2009 @ 12:42:38

    I totally agree to many things you said. There are many good churches and spiritual communities out there and we found our home in the Unitarian Universalist community! I have always been very suspicious of church and grew up within the guilt-ridden Catholic faith. My husband wasn’t raised with any kind of organized religion. And like yourself, it was the birth of our children that made us look for a spiritual community. The UUs are awesome – very liberal, democracy at its peak (each congregation runs itself and just follows the nationwide guidelines), freethinkers, and you can basically be a Buddhist, Christian, atheist, agnostics, Humanist,etc. etc. – and still be a UU! I recommend many who are looking for a spiritual home but don’t know where to start to check them out.

    Reply

  2. Mandy
    Jun 22, 2009 @ 12:44:36

    The church where I work is actually the church where I’m a member. Well, we joined the Sunday school department…I could never get Will to commit to joining the whole church (reasons for which I’d better tell you in an email rather than on here). In the fall when my Sunday morning commitment is up I am going to start going to Sunday school again. The church is walking distance and is actually the very first church I attended as a child, way back in the day.

    If I could change one thing it would be to de-contemporary the 8:30 service. I want to sing a hymn once in awhile. And at the “pull out all the stops” 11:00 service, there is even less singing, even if there is a hymn.

    But the Sunday school department is what keeps me there. Working in the nursery has allowed me to get to know other parents in my same “season of life” and I am looking forward to being able to fellowship with them when my commitment is over.

    Reply

  3. Kim McCarty Jenkins
    Jun 22, 2009 @ 16:40:31

    Amen, Erin! Church “families” and communities within themselves can offer so much support and love! There can be such an unfortunate “stigma” that goes along with being called a “Christian”, it really bums me out, when people talk about most Christians as being too “Religious”. I have heard it stated before, “Christianity is not a religion. Religion is when human beings try to work their way to God through good works; Christianity is God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ to offer a relationship with himself.” My husband and I have been at Cornerstone Chapel (non-denom.) for about 5 years now, and I serve in the Nursery with the little ones. I couldn’t imagine our lives without Him! Someone near to me, is still not ready to accept His gift. I love Revelations 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” I pray those who don’t know, will someday simply answer the door!

    Reply

  4. Carol
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 05:38:56

    Rev. Rob Carlson, 1st Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe, NM (1985) and your Granddad minister (1915-2009) would be glad to hear how you turned out.

    Reply

  5. Pamela
    Jan 21, 2010 @ 08:46:39

    Thanks for this post. I have long planned to start taking my son to UUF once he got “old enough”. I’m not sure what age I had in mind for that, but he will be 3 next month. It isn’t something I have really thought about for a long time, but with all the turmoil I have been going through in my life, it might be time to check it out. Ironically, a “rebuilding” seminar I have been going to weekly is actually held in a sunday school classroom of the UUF, but somehow it took reading your post to make the light bulb go off.

    Reply

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