Tag: Church

Meeting the Need – Health Kits and Love Offerings

Health Kits UMC IMG_6947

After the rains came, and everything started to settle, it became pretty clear that things were going to be alright in much of Ridgeville, Givhans and the Lebanon Communities, but there are many places still dealing with water slowly leaving the state.  Churches and homes still getting rid of water, assessing damage, and beginning the slow process of putting life back together.

Yesterday I drove through Columbia, and it is clear with the bridges still out, and the road closures (and the water systems just coming back into full operation) that this has and will be a longer road than usual.  I’d like to say a few thanks to some of the amazing people I’ve seen helping.

(1) I’d like to thank the South Carolina UMC Conference, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, and the Emergency Relief Teams already engaged and working across the state.  We’re blessed to have so many people from so many places putting brotherly/sisterly love into action.  (By the way there is a training tomorrow if you’d like to join those teams).  Also, thanks to the Conference and our Bishop for immediately posting information on how to get things done.

(2) I’d like to thank the churches of the Ridgeville Charge.  We’ve already made up 60 Health Kits, which were brought to the Conference Office yesterday.  (See pictures above).  I talked with the ladies there, and they said that they are shipping them out to communities fast, and these health kits are in great need.  We should continue to send them if we can, and I’ll make sure that somehow they keep getting to the Conference Office as fast as possible (drop off in the Vestibule’s of any of our Ridgeville Charge Churches.  Also – thank you for already giving so much to the Canaan UMC church on Route 61.  There are ERT teams working there, and they are worshipping at their sister church Sand Hill UMC until the church is ready to use again.  Continue to be in prayers for them, and maybe check in with anyone you know in that area and see if anyone needs anything specific.  We’ll be giving their emergency fund a love offering after this Sunday.  Make sure to invite folks back out to church for worship, and to maximize how much we can send in aid.  I’ve seen SC people coming together in the name of God, and my hope and prayer is that this will continue.  God is good!

(3) To those areas outside the affected zone, and those places out of state who have come to help and have sent bottled water.  Thank you for your prayers and generosity.  God is doing amazing things here, and I believe by prayer you are doing the best thing possible.  God is giving us all we need, and the people of SC are strong.  Pray for those without homes, send funds if you can to relief organizations (see my previous blog for more information about giving and making health kits), and keep telling us you’re thinking about us as the work continues in our hardest hit areas.

My favorite scripture verse is: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for theLord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We have seen His mighty power, we have seen Him work through the love of so many, and our faith is putting our hands to work for our neighbors!  Blessed be the name of the Lord our God!

Exciting Times in the Ridgeville Charge – Thanks to Trinity, Mt. Tabor, and Cypress UMC

Moving In

It has now been over a month since Amanda, Ransom, Bella and I moved from the hot suburbs of Bluffton and Hilton Head and packed our things for Ridgeville, Givhans, and the Lebanon community.

First things first, we have so many people to thank on so many different fronts that it would be impossible to name you all.  At Saint Andrew, our parting was bittersweet, but it was clear that we would remain in touch through the connection of the Methodist church, and we are so grateful for the encouragement as we entered transition.

When we arrived, the people of our three churches met us at our new parsonage and have been an incredibly welcoming presence.  If all visitors to our churches are welcomed with arms as open as we have been welcomed, we have a bright future ahead as the Ridgeville charge makes disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world!  The parsonage was completely remodeled from the time we visited months prior, and it was like a new home.  Folks from all three churches were there to help us get our luggage in and visited with us as we determined where all our “stuff” needed to go.  Afterwards, as we began opening boxes, the food and sweet tea brought to us by congregants helped us continue the charge, even as our first Sunday of worship was about to arrive and we would be traveling to all three churches and experiencing the Holy Spirit move in each.

We are now getting our bearings, and have visited Summerville, SC almost every third day.  That’s where Target and Walmart and Harris Teeter (and Thrift Stores) are located…so we’ve done a lot of that.   We found a coffee shop that we like thanks to some good folks that work nearby who suggested it to us.  It is Coastal Coffee Roasters, which reminds me a lot of The Corner Perk in Bluffton.  Coffee is roasted there on the spot, they have great drinks, and even use nitrous to spice of their cold brew iced coffees (which have an incredibly high caffeine content)  – Good stuff.

And back to Ridgeville and Givhans, we’re not too far from Vaughn’s General Store, and there is a great pizza place in town called Christina’s.  We actually got the internet for the first time at the parsonage, so our cellular data use has plummeted, and we were recommended to (and did) move from AT&T to Verizon (an ongoing process) because the signal out here in the country wasn’t strong enough…oh, and we got a home phone…never thought I’d do that again.

The only challenge we have come up against is that our house, which had originally been ready to sign and sell, is now back on the market due to a mortgage lender error in our first deal.  If you know anyone searching for a house in the Bluffton area, we have a 4 bedroom home that needs a good owner.  That link sends you to a tropical music 3D tour – so exciting.  We loved that home but need to sell it as soon as folks need it.  All in God’s hands and timing.

So here we are, getting to know some of the greatest people in the world, preparing for God’s will as we serve and love the people of this new area, and experiencing a new and exciting way of life.  I’ve included a few photos, including my biscotti pic from the amazing Ice Cream Social that all three churches participated in (and home made ice cream floweth…ed.”   It was amazing.  God is good.  This adventure suits us, as hard as it was to move, even with the little bits of stress, we are being blessed and hopefully will be a blessing to others.  Pray for us as we discover God’s will and act out the mission He has for us!

To you all, blessings and peace,

Dan, Amanda, Ransom and Bella

Extra Pics: 

Worship and Office Trinity UMC Ransom in a Chair Ransom and Bella Cokes on the chairs Coffee at Coastal Boxes and Baby Biscotti for the Charge Social Bella in the Yard Moving In

A Short Guide to Visiting Churches for Worship and God Forbid…Fun

I can’t hide the fact that I love visiting different churches.  While I sometimes get frustrated by the fragmented nature of Christianity post-1000-ish AD, I’ve also found that the diversity allows for what may be lightly called “Church Tourism”.   While I believe that when you’re home, you should have a home church where you live out your calling and pour everything into, when I’m traveling, I take the opportunity to check out the landscape.

I’ll end this article by giving a few accounts of churches I’ve visited lately and how the experience went (including my personal reactions).  But first, I’ll drop a few thoughts on the “HOW TO” of respectfully visiting churches.  Yes, there is an etiquette to this.  It may help you especially if you are seeking a church home and don’t want to burn bridges prior to deciding where God is bring you.

Some Principles for Visiting Churches:

(1) Don’t judge anything.  When going to a new church, it is easy to criticize and in your mind say a lot of “Well, at our church we do this..” etc, etc.  Don’t fall into this trap.  Every church is different and has a slightly different expression of culture and worship which can be offered to God.  Go thinking “I’m going to become part of this place and worship amongst this people”.  You can give yourself to it and have a great time.

(2) Don’t be uncomfortable.  I think that many people who say a church just wasn’t welcoming were likely giving off “uncomfortable” signals.  If someone comes into your home and they’re frowning, acting like they don’t want to talk, and just keeps to themselves, its going to be an awkward visit and those folks might not really want you there after a while.  In a church, I think at least on the sociological level, its the same way.  Go in with a smile and shake some hands.  People will likely be friendly and want to talk. If you’re intentionally friendly and no one returns the favor, then you know somethings up, but I don’t think that’s the case most of the time.  Someone wants to say hello to new people in just about every church.

(3) Compliment and thank the pastor.  Pastors get a lot of flak and critique.  In smaller churches, visitors are big deals, and when a visitor says something nice it eases relationship building and allows everyone to get to know each other.  Focus on the positive and smile.  Pastors are sometimes introverts so they may not naturally come and say hello, but most want to meet you.  Don’t guage the pastor by posture, but keep an open stance and let happen what needs to happen.

(4) Spend some time in worship.  All the evaluation stuff can keep you from remembering that ultimately you are looking for a place of worship – not just a place to find a best friend.  Focus on the Big Guy, pray some, close your eyes and seek Wisdom.  Picture Jesus and spend time in His company.  I think most folks would enjoy a church more if they realized and practiced actual worship in the church rather than thought about whether they’re going to be accepted or not.  If you want to find God, He’s there.  Spend time with Him and let the church be who they are – also – let them worship too.

Lastly (5), go with the flow.  All churches have quirks.  Learn em, and learn to love them.  All the grumbling I see in churches tends to be in bad spirit.  Rather than grumble, learn the history of the church.  Learn why there are so many sections.  Experience and understand that generations have come and gone in most churches and there is an abiding love for the spaces created for learning, fellowship, worship and partaking in the sacraments.

I think if you follow some of these guidelines you’ll have a great time on vacation going from church to church. Try it out and see.  Its actually quite refreshing.  And if you don’t have a church home yet, I hope you find one too!

Recent Visits:

(1) First United Methodist Church, Waynesville, NC (Late August 2013)

My wife and I had been given the opportunity by some amazing good people in our church to use their cabin in Lake Junaleska, a United Methodist gathering area, for a personal holiday/vacation.  As we enjoyed long walks around the lake, talked about possibly seeing elk, and enjoying small town coffee shops, and visiting Ashville, the conversation came about which church to attend.  I checked some websites and First UMC Waynesville (where a nice coffee shop and some local shopping were located) came up quickly.  We’d see the church on our journeys so we decided to attend.

Finding parking was easy.  They had a visitors parking lot and that made it easy.  Not so easy for a visitor, however, was finding the sanctuary.  We ended up in the Youth Center (we could tell because it was the oldest part of the building and there were pool tables).  I knew that if we kept walking something would lead us there, so we went up some stairs and ended up in a large gym, where perhaps an contemporary service had just ended.  There were a few families lingering, so I walked up to someone who looked friendly and she introduced herself.  She brought us through a few corridors and we went up some stairs through some welcome areas (it was quite a complex due to local hills/geography) and we came out into an airy wide open completely new sanctuary.  Lots of bright colored woods, non corroded metals aluminum in color, and banners hanging all around with a well dressed choir.  The families sat up in the balcony (where we sat), people helped us get up there and smiled a lot, and older people sat together down below.  It seems that every UMC with a balcony does this.  Young people and families up top, older folks below.  Seems strange to me.  The service started, and it flowed much like our home church (which is also UMC), and we sang hymns, listened to an awesome choir, a children’s sermon went probably a few minutes too long and the kids wiggled, robed ministers administrated the service, and there was a well done sermon.  We left, not really knowing anyone, which makes sense for a first visit, and we went back to vacation.  I got a good picture which I’ve added.  Beautiful and well done church/service at FUMC Waynesville.

(2) Trinity Assembly of God, Derry, NH (Just before Christmas 2013)

My brother was getting married in Ipswich, NH and so we were near where I grew up and also near the church in MA where I worked in High School ministry (Grace Chapel).  I wrestled a bit, but we were going to visit my parents in Derry, (my hometown) so I ultimately decided to attend my first church – the Pentecostal Trinity Assembly of God near Pinkerton Academy where I attended High School.  I was wondering who would still be there, and how the church was faring, so we went.  We parked, and then entered the same warehouse like church structure that had been built while I was a child.  We were welcomed by a good friend of my family and former Royal Rangers (sort of like scouts) leader, who warmly greeted us and made us feel at home. The pastor wasn’t there so the worship leader (who I’d never met) led worship and I looked around and saw a few familiar faces.  A sprinkling of families I know, and many new people.  It was near Christmas, and apparently the youth and the children had charge of parts of the service, and they announced that young people would be playing instruments.  One young man, who had only played 30 days on the clarinet, was introduced.  I was about to cringe – 30 days?! But it was fantastic.  I think Pentecostals have music in their blood.  Its born in them.  I don’t really understand it – it just happens.  Pretty amazing.  Granddaugthers of the man who was preaching this particular week also played piano and it was great.  Then a whole children’s pageant happened.  It was hilarious, but accurate Biblically, and got the Christmas juices flowing.  Then a great sermon on living out life seeking Christ like the wise men happened.  I remember this guy who preached from childhood, and he was again amazing.  Lots of passion and a great backstory to share.   We ended up staying after service (and after my wife experienced a whole church alter call), and met up with Jenny, who is now the Youth Director there (we were in Youth Group there together).  She brought me to the old sanctuary, which had been converted into a Youth Center, and she was doing an amazing job!  It was encouraging so see so much.  Loved visiting – and hope to return.

Bethel Baptist

(3) Bethel Baptist Church, Bethel, NC (Just after Christmas 2013)

Amanda and I are visiting her parents for Christmas and New Year’s and her sister is moving into town.  Her sister’s family will be looking for a church, and we all decided to check out the Baptist church within walking distance.  It was raining, but we drove around the corner.  We went in the wrong door, but a kind man shook my hand, greeted us and brought us into the sanctuary from the back door.  We walked in and sat near the front (in this church most people sit in the back – interesting), and we looked around.  Children were in one choir area by the piano.  Some men in the opposite side.  The pastor sat in a chair and ordered the service.  Worship started and the Pastor (who we found out was interim until a pastor was called) gave announcements and called the worship to order.  We sang a few hymns with a Christmas theme, the children sang Christmas songs, there was a Children’s Talk calling them to be Transparent and show Christ in the new year, and a mens group sang O Holy Night, which was actually pretty good.  I was worried.  The pastor then got up and spoke a well thought out sermon on the Magi and gave lots of background of what may have actually happened between the wise men and young Jesus and them worshipping him.  He talked about why Gold, Incense, and Myrrh – which I thought was great.  We then sang a few more hymns and we were done.  We hung out a while, and many people (and children) greeted us.  There were a lot of families.  And afterwards we headed home after a pleasant experience.

There is a Place for Young People in an Aging Society

There’s a place for young people in an aging society

Published: July 30, 2013, The Island Packet, Bluffton Edition

By DANIEL GRISWOLD — danielgriswold@gmail.com

A wise man told me this morning that our current culture is very “ageist.” In an area that is full of wonderfully retired and aging people, we live in a focal point of the angst that aging brings with it, in regular life and in worship.

Young people in the college and career phases of their lives walk into a church and are greeted by handshakes and smiles from gray-haired people wearing nice suits or dresses, holding up the structure and traditional styles of worship. In a perfect world, all ages would come together and worship the God of the Ages (or all ages), but the reaction I’ve more often seen is one of segregation according to age, individual taste in style, or by culture. In a time when people basically worship youth, this is not surprising, but how can God’s people be different?

In the Scriptures, it is obvious that God values all people of all ages. Those who are young are the church, those who are middle-aged are the church, those who are elderly are the church. And it is with different perspectives on life coming together that we see life’s picture more completely. The old do not forget what it was like to be young, full of new adventures, fears and risks. The young gain the advantage of wisdom, which is basically the ability to denote patterns in life and share that knowledge with others.

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18)

Perhaps segregation started after the World Wars, when young men and women settled down together and simultaneously started families and careers. A mass of people grew up together, supported one another, and raised children together. That solidarity gave them a special place in society as their children grew and created a new world beneath the structures they created. As that generation retires and passes off the responsibilities of the world, a painful process begins. It also seems like there are more older people than ever as the baby boomers remain in health well into their 80s and 90s. My great-grandmother, Alice, is now 102 years old.

So what are the young to do? I think that a bit of humility would do us all a bit of good. We are an aging society and for a time the young will have to come to terms with what it means to be at the other end of life. I think that the benefits of sharing life together outweigh the initial awkwardness of the relationship. Who wouldn’t want to have some sound financial advice, or to hear the stories of their family?

Perhaps that means that we don’t have all the electric guitars in the worship band, or perhaps that means that the projector shows images of cartoons from the 1960s and 1970s. That’s all OK. As we worship together, our picture of life becomes more complete, and it is our common focus on the glory of God, and telling of the great things he has done, that we forget age and become part of a church that is eternal. Can people of all ages come together and be the body of Christ? I know we can, I’ve seen it happen. Have courage and trust in the Lord, great things are possible.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

 

“Life of Parson” – A Comic Based on the Humor of Everyday Faith

Life of Parson Title

“Life of Parson”

a comic based in the humor of everyday faith

I’ve had an idea in my head for a long time.  It basically goes like this: There are two things that you don’t see in PopCulture very often these days; people going to the bathroom and people going to Church.  While the first I understand, the second I don’t.  Faith plays a huge role in life, and I’ve particularly felt its impact on my own heart and my desire to love and do good in the world.  While I don’t own a Television Studio or a Movie Production Company, I do have friends that are excellent illustrators and I absolutely love to write.  In this case, I’ve partnered with my friend Mark Marianelli, of New Hampshire, who has an amazing illustration style.  I’ll be doing all the writing.  We love to laugh (as you may have experienced with our projects at Six AM Comics) and we are faith inspired people, so why not base a comic on the life of a good young pastor trying to do good.  I think this could push against some of the faith based stereotypes I’ve encountered and explore the silliness we all experience in community in general.  There is a huge chest of goodies that our pop culture doesn’t explore a whole lot these days.

For your pleasure, here is our first ‘Life of Parson’ Comic (Click Comic to Enlarge):

Life of Parson Comic

I hope this interests you?  And if so, once I have 50 interested people signed up on thisSpecial Persons contact list, I’m going to send out the second comic and the scripts as well as some interesting “Making Of” materials.  We’re not going to publish this like we do with our other webcomics because we want to test the interest in this kind of endeavor.  If the newsletter grows, Parson will flourish and the content will flow.  If it doesn’t, then we have many projects in the works.  Take a moment to let us know this is something you would like to see happen.  If it takes off, we’ll try and publish in different venues, but this is a test.  Lets see where this goes.  Sign up now below:

Get all the upcoming Comics –

Join Parson’s “Special Persons” Newsletter

Please share this blog with anyone you think will be interested.  Thanks in advance.

Our Sacred Space AKA Youth Gathering Room (oh the difference a year makes)

A little over a year ago, the Children’s Ministry at Saint Andrew allowed us (Surf Youth Group), to take over a large room in our administration building in order have more space for Youth Activities.  Here is what it looked like as we first utilized the room:

We inherited two couches, some green padded chairs, two directors chairs, and a large tube television.  I eventually brought in a ping-pong table (not shown), the stage behind me, bought a projector, and moved in a healthy stack of NLV Bibles.  Good to go for the time.

We quickly outgrew the half space we had, and I had to rearrange several times to accomodate.  The paint was aged (with years of handprints plastered about), so over the summer Amanda (my wife) and I did a major overhaul.  We painted the walls blue and a deep red.  Moved over to the other side of the room and enlarged the gathering space.  A donated couch arrived, we hooked up an HD TV for media, and brought in a Gladiator Gearbox, some lights and a laptop to do some really fun stuff.  Here is the current room:

I forgot to mention that I love the icicle lights – in person they make the room very warm.  This picture was taken after High School Youth Group on Sunday Night, and I love how the room feels.  Unfortunately, more work needs to be done.  We are already over capacity for seating space for some of our programs with Middle School youth, and so this summer we will likely work on some new projects – like taking out the back walls, painting the hallways, and making a unified youth space (we also have a teaching room and a Green Room that feels more like a coffee shop).

In all the youth ministries in which I have served families, having a fun and warm space is incredibly important for those who worship and spend time in the church.  A lot has happened as we have continued to redo the rooms including a new and growing High School Youth Group known as ACDC (Awesome Christian’s Digging Christ).  Summer missions is exploding, Confirmation is passionate, events are transforming lives, and God is doing some great and amazing things.   Nice to know the space is getting used ;D  God bless you and pray for us if you have a few moments.  Peace.

On Liturgical Worship (A Personal Experience)

(Image is of Christ Church United Methodist )

After graduating seminary at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, I felt called to minister at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church.  The search committee was welcoming but discerning, the pastor was warm and incredibly intelligent, the congregants warm and welcoming, and the families were engaged.  I knew that when I received the call, and was asked, “Would you come to Saint Andrew,” my answer was “Yes, I will.”  God has greatly blessed me at this church the last three years, but I did have a bit of acclimation, particularly in the realm of Worship Style.

Very quickly, I discovered that SABTS worshipped by singing hymns, they said The Apostles Creed and prayed “Our Father” nearly every Sunday.  A vigorous choir accompanies a talented organist – so the style is what some would call “Traditional” or “Liturgical”.

My background in the Pentecostal, Baptist and Non-Denominational churches would definitely be considered a “Contemporary” experience.  Contemporary merely meaning that guitars, drums, bass and microphones are the main tools of worship.  The songs have been written (mainly from the Psalms) by Contemporary Christian Musicians in the last 30 years or so.  Hymns were more the exception, but were still sung from time to time.  I had been used to the bright colors of lighting rigs, textured displays and projectors displaying the outlines of the talks.  Pastor’s generally did not wear their suit jackets, and I had never been in a church where the pastor wore robes or a stole (a word I had never heard).

I had to ask myself if I was capable or worship in the new setting, so I began to write in my mind a list of priorities (values) that would guide me in this decision.  In other words, what was most important to me about a worship service?

First, I had grown up in a tradition of good preaching.  Pentecostal preachers are known for their passionate sermons, and Biblical Study is important to me.  If I am inspired, I also need to learn something.  Also, if I am not stretched as a person as a result of the preaching, I feel that there was no point.  The application is as key as the main idea.  And has the Gospel been faithfully represented?  Is the preacher being faithful to God’s word.  I checked SABTS’s website and listened to sermon audio recordings to get a feel for the head pastor’s preaching.  I listened to three recent sermons and determined that this church had an excellent preacher who met all my expectations.  Would I have come had the preaching not been so excellent?  Perhaps.  But it helps that our lead faithfully speaks the Gospel to us, and we are challenged each and every week.

Second, I asked myself about music style, “If things are going to change, what are the non-negotiables?”  In other words, could I worship if I never heard a guitar again?  I thought about this a lot, not just for myself, but my wife Amanda also prefers the more contemporary sound.  I discussed this with her, and I communicated that I felt that so long as we were glorifying God in music, that I would be able to step into the context of my church (like a missionary would on another continent) and respect the styles of worship honored in the community where I would serve.  I made a conscious decision to respect the community and allow myself to be transformed by their valued music.  In the last three years, I have come to love certain hymns for their messages and their tunes.  I don’t pretend to understand the notes in the hymnal (though I do try to look to see whether to go up or down in voice), but this congregation sings these hymns with vigor and reverence.  They sing about God’s love, Repentance, Hope, Christ’s Sacrifice, Challenge and Tribulation, Happiness in Spirit and it all points towards the work of Jesus Christ. I cannot argue that we should never worship like this, in fact, those who refuse to worship this way are missing out on a way of communicating God’s love that is deep, rich, and full of passion.  Americans are in love with what is “New” but we easily forget that hymns were once the “New” music as well.  Concerning music, perhaps one day I’ll worship with guitars again (I am learning to play myself), but I am content to sing this way for the rest of my life.  It is a good thing, regardless of my preferences.

Lastly, concerning prayer, I had been used to an extemporaneous style of praying in past churches.  Pastors full of the Holy Spirit would call out to God, and the people of the congregation would pray out loud together.  It was sometimes cacophonous, and I think it would scare some folks who are more used to order.  I had seen at a non-denominational church where I had served, people praying from written notes during services, and it had fascinated me, but some were from notes and others weren’t.  Here at SABTS, each portion of the service was carefully prepared, pulled from liturgy, and steeped in tradition pulled from the Church Fathers, Liturgies of the church carefully written, and from John Wesley’s (the founder of Methodism) hands himself at times.  I discovered the Methodist “Book of Worship” and amazing prayers for every occasion, and found a deep wellspring of spirituality in the faith of saints long gone.  They had written their lives with God down on paper, and their communities of saints spoke to us today.  It was deep, and as spirit filled as the extemporaneous prayers of my upbringing.  God opened my eyes, though I felt at home, considering how much I love to write and read.  This became a new avenue I had never considered.  The liturgy was also freeing to me, because in those times when I did not know how to pray, there were words that could express my spirit even when I could not.  I saw the hand of the Holy Spirit across the millennia recorded for the future.  I am likely to have a prayer book the rest of my life regardless of where I minister, and I am thankful for this liturgical experience.  If simply to have the “Doxology” memorized and to sing it when I am thankful is such a treasure.  Again, my eyes have been open.

The apostle Paul, walking on a line between the traditional Jewish faith, and the new and developing traditions of the Gentile believers in the Roman Empire, always held onto the roots of his Jewish heritage, while simultaneously celebrating the new work among the new people who were coming to faith in Christ.  He said in a trial that, “I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (The Book of Acts).  He is part of the Way, which is a new thing in Christ, as many Jews believed in Jesus as the culmination of their messianic heritage, yet he held to the Law and its teachings simultaneously.

I feel like I am walking a line as well, between the music of my peers (which has its own pros and cons) and the worship of Christian tradition, which has been proved in the past to encourage believers in faith.  I honestly find myself comfortable in both settings, and can see services where both are used wisely for the edification of believers and for promoting God’s glory.  The fact is, God is amazing, and there are not enough styles of worship that can completely capture that glory for us.  We have to continue to innovate while preserving the past for future believers.  If we only worship in the style in which we are comfortable, we are becoming less Christian, because these values – diversity, unity, and even perseverance through discomfort for the “other”, must be lived out if we are to believe that Jesus calls us to be “one” in His body.

We are a diverse people across a globe with many people, with various liturgies and forms of worship, but if a church preaches Christ, challenges us to action in our faith, and stretches us beyond our comfort and leads us to love others, we have found a good place.  I encourage you, if you have a qualm with the style of worship (either way), to try to re-engage in a spirit of unity, putting Christ and the promotion of His Good News and His Good Kingdom above our own personal preferences.  I believe that this is something all Christians can and one day will have to do. The world is getting smaller, and our divisions blur the vision for the future of the church.  Let’s put on the heart of the optimist.  Christ has already won.  Let’s live out the values of the Kingdom today.