Because my stepson Chris this coming Sunday is joining the congregation to which his mother and I belong, I attended, with him, a gathering of potential new members this past Sunday.
Although there were, among a dozen or so people there, a couple of folks who came to our Presbyterian congregation from a Presbyterian background, most did not. There were, instead, people who said they grew up Catholic, Baptist and Disciples of Christ, for instance.
The religious background Chris brings is mostly Episcopalian because that's the denomination of the church his mother attended when I met her. Chris is a special needs adult who lives in a group home and works in a sheltered workshop.
His understanding of theology therefore is, in one sense, quite limited, but not his understanding of love. He may be the most loving human being I've ever known. And he understands that people at Second Presbyterian Church (the building of which is pictured here) love him back and want him in our church family.
Once in America it was common for families to remain in the same denomination for generations. But those days are mostly long gone. Instead of looking for, say, a Methodist or Lutheran church because that's where someone grew up, people look for a sense of community, for a comfort level with the expressed theology and practices and for someplace is that not just welcoming but inviting. Good preaching and music and halfway decent coffee help, too, though I wouldn't know about the coffee because I don't drink the stuff.
So although we're proud of our Presbyterian heritage at my congregation, we're much more focused on creating a community of people being transformed by God so they can help transform the world. And Presbyterians have no monopoly on that.
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QUICKEST ROUTE TO HEAVEN?
And for our short-attention-span culture, there's now "speedfaithing" on a California college campus, where you have 10 minutes to learn about a religion. No doubt for some that will seem like an eternity.