Church attendance has hit a stagnant state here in America. It seems perfectly normal to me for people to go – or not go – as they see fit, and nobody questions it. Those who are in attendance expect the same old routines – the good mornings, the stand-ups and sit downs, kneeling and handshakes. We sing the same collection of hymns found in the same books accompanied by an organ player. It’s routine. It’s normal. It’s expected. At least, that was always the experience I had.
So I guess I can see how people (incorrectly) think that my church is a cult.
Now pause. Yes, I said people sometimes are under the impression that the church my friends and I belong to is a cult. Because it’s not church as usual.
Here’s my story.
Even though I’ve gone to Catholic School from 2nd grade through college, I never really got it. I never experienced Jesus. I learned Bible stories, sung songs and memorized the 10 Commandments. I was Baptized, made my First Communion, and had a Confirmation. But I never understood what it all really meant. It was just a school requirement. I’d accepted God and Jesus as a reality, and I believed in them, but that was the extent of it. I would try to pray every night, and I even tried to say the rosary daily – twice daily if I skipped a day. But I quickly burnt out.
When I met my soon-to-be boyfriend, faith faded out of my life. He said he believed there was a higher power and that Jesus was an awesome role model, and that was good enough for me at the time. But since he was Agnostic, religion didn’t play a huge role in his life, so it gradually faded out of mine. When we broke up, of course I prayed vehemently to God to get us back together – which we never did (Thank you, Jesus!).
When that all ended, I eventually found myself wanting to go to church again, so I told my sister that I was going to go with her. But I found myself waking up on Sunday mornings hoping that she’d call and say that she didn’t want to go. I was so bored there that I eventually stopped trying. Besides, all I ever seemed to get out of it was a content feeling afterwards, that I had filled some sort of requirement. I wanted to start trying out other local churches, but at this point in my life, I wouldn’t do anything alone. So I would just talk about how much didn’t like church, but really wanted to go.
One day my good friend Laura texted me and told me that she and her husband had been going to a church that their friends, Chris and Holli, introduced them to. Laura and I had talked previously about wishing we liked church, so when she told me she actually found an awesome new church and invited me to go, I said YES.
I got up that Sunday morning and went to Metro South Church for the first time. I remember it was the first day of The One Series. I loved it – the music, the pastor, and the message. Finally, I’d found a church where the gospel mattered and God was ALIVE, although I didn’t quite realize what that meant just yet. But Metro made Jesus REAL – not a fact in a book to be memorized and just accepted.
I started going to Metro in November 2010, and in May of the following year things really started happening. I had been thinking about wanting to attend a Bible study, and seemingly right away, Her Life (then Women’s Life) announced that a study was about to start. I knew God wanted me to go, and I signed up. I’d also been hearing about a group called Unite for single college-aged kids. I didn’t have many friends who fit the criteria, but I had a Christian acquaintance who was coming home from college. I asked her to go to both with me. Now Brittany is one of my closest friends, but that’s a story for another time.
Now I’ve been attending Metro for about 2 years. I no longer wake up on Sunday mornings hoping for an excuse not to go – I actually rearrange my schedule to make sure that I can make it. I’ve only missed service a handful of times, mostly due to weather or being out of town. So what changed?
I whole-heartedly believe it’s because Jesus is alive and well at Metro. And that’s why I also think that people say Metro is evil, or soft-sells the Bible, or is a cult. I’ve heard of people saying we MUST be a cult, otherwise how could we get so many people to work at the building for free?
But I can honestly say that Metro is none of these things. They do NOT twist the words of the Bible (quite the opposite, actually – they often go deeper and give the meanings of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words used to offer a better understanding). They’ve never guilted me into giving money, though I’ve often been tempted to tell people they have really good Kool-Aid (joking!). There’s nothing like that going on there.
But Metro isn’t church as usual. People come for the music stay for the word, and many of us walk out of the doors changed. I know I have. Metro South is a church that makes it easy for people to meet their Creator and pretty soon Jesus begins to escape the Sunday morning box that many people try to keep him in. He begins to be a part of our work life, home life, and social life. Priorities shift and lives change. Suddenly our Sunday Best isn’t good enough – we want more of God.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not here to bash other churches. We’re all here for the same purpose – to glorify God and make disciples of all nations. We should be united, not divided. Even though I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus long ago, a seed was clearly planted during my time in Catholic school, allowing Jesus to bloom later on in my life. I remember going on retreats, as well as sitting in and enjoying religion classes. For some people, like my sister, the Catholic church works, and that’s awesome. But Metro is where, for ME, Jesus truly came alive. My friends have had similar experiences there - I’ve seen their lives change thanks to the power of the cross.
Metro isn’t a perfect church and never claims to be. The leadership openly admits this, and I find that reassuring. We’re always reminded that we’re not there to serve them, or even our church. Ultimately, it’s all about God. Metro is an informative, fun, and amazing church for normal people who love Jesus. It’s also a church that welcomes everyone with open arms. You can come to Metro as you are - we’re all in it for Jesus. I’m proud to call Metro home.
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NKJV)
No matter what today has in store, as a believer, you can approach the day with boldness and confidence. Why? Because the Lord is with you, and in Him is everything you need in this life! That means that if you need provision for something today, provision is with you. If you need wisdom today, wisdom is with you. If you need strength, joy or peace today, it’s with you. You can be confident today knowing that all of your needs are supplied spiritually, physically and emotionally because the Lord is with you. And best of all, He’s promised never to leave you.
Remember, don’t ever let the lies from the enemy or pressure from the world keep you from taking hold of everything the Lord has for you. Open your heart by faith and receive whatever you need today. Step out in boldness and strength because the Lord is with you!
A Prayer for Today
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me today. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for being closer to me than the air I breathe. I receive Your promises today in faith and confidence. I cast all of my cares on You and set my heart on You today in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Did you know that God chose you before the foundations of the earth? Before the worlds were ever formed, He knew you. And, He didn’t create you to be average. He didn’t create you to barely get by. No, He created you to excel! Not only has He chosen you, but He has equipped you with everything you need to live and thrive in this life. He has deposited seeds of greatness inside every person. But in order to tap into those seeds of greatness, you have to believe this and act on it.
Too many people today are going around with low self-esteem, feeling inferior like they don’t have what it takes. But that is living a lie. And as long as we have a poor self-image, we’re not going to experience God’s best. In order to be all that God has called us to be, we have to see ourselves as chosen, valuable and victorious.
Today, meditate on this truth. Let it sink down deep into your heart. Let it build confidence and security in you. As you understand your value in the eyes of God, you’ll be empowered to live the life of victory He has prepared for you!
They expect my reaction to be something like:
When really, my reaction is something like:
(via Sometimes when I say “I’m OK” I want someone to look me in the eye and hug me | Best Tumblr Love Quotes)
Luckily, I have this :)
Humans are so prone to attack from the outside world. It doesn’t matter how secure you think you are in anything, how well off you are. One day you’re celebrating a wedding, and the next someone you love is fighting for their lives. It doesn’t seem right. But the rest of the world doesn’t care about what’s going on in your own little world. No matter who’s hurting, life goes on. And your world, and the world beyond that, is so fragile. Nothing is certain. You can’t know when someone is going to fall, when someone is going to hurt, when something is going to happen to just rip your world apart. We aren’t in paradise.
I’ve been feeling panicked as of late, maybe in the past week. People that I know are hurting. People that they know are in trouble. And I hurt for them all. And the fear I feel, is in not knowing what’s coming next. There’s never any guarantees and that makes me want to curl in a ball and fade away and not have to worry.
This is why God is so important. In an unstable world, he is unfailing and unchanging, all-knowing and always loving. I’ve had trouble with fear and anxiety my entire life, and while I’m trying to figure that part of my life out, it is a process. And I’m still falling victim to not knowing. It’s a hard process.
I wish more people knew the love of God. If they knew just how real He is, how real the love of the Son is, then they could have a constant in their lives. I grew up fatherless, and now I’m coming to realize that I do have a Father…with no earthly example of what a dad looks like, it’s been hard for me. I can only pray that God will show me what a real dad is like. And I pray he shows it to the rest of the world and those I love.
I’m tired of being afraid when the telephone rings. I’m sick of feeling weak. And while I fear the world around me and what’s coming next, I’m grateful that at least I have the knowledge of God’s love. Without that, there’s nothing.
(Source: pinterest.com, via heartsquotes)
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