Saturday, January 19, 2013

Spiritual But Not Religious

This week at Grace we are moving through our sermon series "Second Chances".  The real idea behind the series is to take another look at something you missed.  Maybe we all can receive a second chance, and extend another second chance to others.

The phrase "Spiritual but not religious" has been around for a few years.  As a pastor I've heard people who don't want to attend worship regularly use this phrase.  I have friends and family who do not attend worship or who don't believe that Jesus is the son of God.

In the very beginning, religious practices were designed for us to move closer to God.  As many have experienced, church and religion do not always meet that criteria.  In fact, some churches and religions actually move us farther away from God.  Why?  Well, we are human and we sin.  Sin is anything that is contrary to the love of God.

When a group of Christians and a church do not extend the love of God to others, we fail.

When the church is more focused on a building than transforming the world, we fail.

When we judge others, we fail.

No wonder millions of people are claiming the status of "spiritual but not religious".

However, there is a thin line.  The thin line rests between:

I have a deep desire to know God but reject organized religion because of my personal experiences or the experiences of others.


I'm too cynical to care about trying something new, so I use a phrase that does not really pertain to my life.

Not all churches are bad examples.  Just like people who aren't connected to church are not spiritual.

All sides of the of the spiritual crowds should be less judgmental of each other.  If you are looking for a deep relationship with God, your journey can be enhanced by gathering in community with others seeking that relationship too.  There are hundreds and thousands of churches making extraordinary differences in the lives of millions.

I'm asking for us all to listen a bit more to each others' stories and see where God might be calling us to gather.  And it might not always be in a church building on a Sunday morning.

The following will help us all be better informed on this topic.

NPR did a great series of stories and podcasts this last week on "The Nones", the spiritual, but not religious crowd.
You can find one of the blogs HERE

The three articles below will help you better understand what "spiritual, but not religious" people are seeking.  They will also help us all clear up many misconceptions about worship, religion and church.

Excellent Explanation of Misunderstanding Most Religions and Religious Practices

New Forms of Religious Worship- The Self and Stuff

What About Community?

Go in peace and go with God

Peace, Jeremy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's and Second Chances

New Year's usually causes us to look back and look forward.  Looking back it was a year with ups and downs, hopefully more ups.

A few things happened this past year in the life of Grace that you might be interested in hearing.

-- We finished construction and opened our brand new sanctuary

-- Published our first Enhanced E book called "A Story of Grace"

-- We were featured in the Kansas City Star for our LEED Certification

-- Record Christmas Eve Crowd

-- $10,000 was spent on our Christmas Toy Drive

-- Expanded our ongoing Missional Events - LSSS, Boys Home, ReStart, Pro Deo and Jr High Backpack Program

-- Donated 140 chairs to Faithbridge UMC at the Lake for their worship service

-- Helped numerous families during the grieving process

-- Celebrated with numerous families at Weddings

-- Celebrated new births, new members and baptisms

-- Consulted with several other churches in the area of "contemporary worship"

-- Resourced with several other churches in the areas of leadership and finances

-- Hosted Pastoral Leadership Development for our new clergy in the Missouri Annual Conference

-- Paid our Apportionments in full

-- Free Weddings

-- Handed off full leadership of Renaissance Church

-- Sonshine Preschool continues to grow

So what does the future hold for Grace?  As we reflect on the events of this past year, I can't help but be excited about our future together.  We are healthy and vital congregation that continues to reach out in service and concern to the world.  We truly are a light in the darkness.

Thank you for all you have done and will do to make this a wonderful church.

Thank you our staff for their extraordinary work.

And thank God that we have a church to call home.

Don't forget to join us in January for our new sermon series Second Chances.  It might just change yoru life or the life of someone you know and love.

Go in peace and go with God.

Oh yeah, and BE THE LIGHT!