April 3, 2012

Holy Week makes an ideal time to visit churches, inconspicuously!


Christians may still be in the majority in the U.S.A., but church pews do not reflect this very well! With attendance dropping dramatically from year to year, smaller churches have become in danger of closing. These trends seem particularly worrisome in a climate building toward religious intolerance of Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and other Christian denominations.

What if all of our churches closed?

or

What if our churches embrace one another in Christ and work together to re-unite, rather than dis-member, the Body of Christ?

For many years, my family and I had a variety of work-related moves around the country that gave us the blessing of being part of almost every major denomination. Therefore, I consider myself an ecumenical part of all! That’s not an experience Christians commonly have, however, so I want to let you know what I found to be true in every denomination of every church of every size:

People get their feelings hurt and stop attending their home church.

New pastors, priests, and rectors come and go, sometimes changing things too quickly for church members to accept and adapt to the changes, and so they pull away.

Christians who grew up in the church their parents picked might be familiar with that denomination but might not choose it for themselves!

Many people seem afraid to search for another denomination, perhaps because their families might not approve or they’re timid about attending an unfamiliar service without an invitation from someone who can accompany them and explain the order of worship.

But then, many Christians seem shy about inviting others to church for fear they will be rebuffed or thought of as a religious fanatic!

Other reasons cause declining interest, too, but what do we do about what we know?

We can let the situation slide until the whole church backslides into an ineffectual influence at a time when the power of Christ is surely needed!

or

We can pray about the problem and see what God brings to mind. For example, some workable solutions might be to:

Invite friends, family, or neighbors to attend a worship service with you.

Consider visiting a church denomination you have never attended.

Look for the official website for the headquarters of every denomination that interests you, and also visit sites of denominations you think you would never consider joining!

Research the mission statement, creed, or general information about each denomination.

Especially, notice the mutual beliefs important to you.

For example, if you believe in baptism by immersion, check out the official websites for Southern Baptist, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Roman Catholics, the latter of whom lets you choose immersion if you desire. That assumes, though, that you have not already been baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since that is considered a valid baptism by Catholics, Episcopalians, and many other denominations.

With a little online research, you can find out whatever you want to know, but here’s what I found that’s important to me:

Most Christians in most denominations love God and the Bible.

Most denominations have the same basic tenets of faith, for example, believing in God as the Father of Jesus, Mary as the Virgin Mother, Jesus the Christ as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our advocate and spiritual guide.

Most churches also welcome visitors – with open arms anytime, but if you want to be inconspicuous, that’s most likely to happen during Easter (or Christmas) as people return to church worship, recalling the reasons to come together and celebrate:

Jesus Christ has come!
Christ has forgiven you!
Christ has died for your sins!
Christ has risen!
Christ lives in you and in the church Body of Christ.

What Good News to celebrate with each other in the churches of our choice! What Good News to write about in our poems, devotionals, books, stories, articles, letters, emails, tweets, text-messages, blogs, and love notes throughout the year!


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© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved. For articles on a variety of Bible topics, follow Blogs by Mary.May God bless your Holy Week and your church search in Jesus’ Name.
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