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Archive for Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faith Forum: Is it possible to be religious without attending services?

September 27, 2008

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Church fosters kinship about faith

Ron Channell, pastor, Family Church of Lawrence, 5150 Clinton Parkway:

This is a vital question that is more pertinent today than ever before. To answer it, let's go straight to the source, the living word of God (Hebrews 4:12). Christ tells us, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

This directive is vital for all believers in Christ. In fact, it is the reason Family Church of Lawrence exists. Our motto, "The place where real people care about real issues," is not meant as a catchy phrase. It is the purpose for coming together - to demonstrate the essence of God's love infused in his people, then to touch the lives of others.

Many today express the point of view that they are spiritual but not religious. The Greek word for religious refers to public worship. Christ desires for his family to come together. His emphasis on community worship is because it fosters relationships, first with himself, then with one another. Ephesians 4:16 says we will grow in him as we are joined and held together, building each other up in love.

The church (the collective believers in Christ) should be a conduit of God's love and teachings - a community of believers encouraging, challenging, loving and inspiring one another. "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).

When we choose to distance ourselves, we, too often, become lax in our spiritual disciplines. Before long, they are simply a distant memory. God has wired us for fellowship and the church plays a critical role in the growth of the Christian.

- Send e-mail to Ron Channell at ronchannell@gmail.com.

Personal worship more than sufficient

Charles Gruber, Sufi minister, student of Zen Buddhism and member of the Oread Friends Meeting:

Merriam Webster says about religious:

1. Manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity

2. Of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances

3. Scrupulously and conscientiously faithful

It is interesting that none of the above definitions refer to services, churches, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship, rabbis, priests, imams, liturgies, congregations, holy days, prayer books, frankincense or myrrh.

The passionate interface with "all that is" characterizes personal worship that is more than sufficient for one to be "religious." The acknowledgment of spirit is not just a substitution for a church edifice; it is a prerequisite for entry into the church of the heart, wherein lies the yearning for connection with the eternal.

True compassion is the collection plate of the soul. Blessing other people exactly as they are is the call-and-response of silent prayer. Focusing on the generosity of the universe is the collective hymn of the inner congregation. Simple meditation at the dawn of the new day is the faithful devotion to listening to the divine.

Attending services serves an important function in connecting with other humans. I myself look forward to going to the Oread Friends Meeting every Sunday. Our silent services are different from most. And they reinforce the silence in my heart during the week.

Does one need to attend services to be religious? Heavens, no.

- Send e-mail to Charles Gruber at cgruber@cgruber.com.

Comments

denak 6 years, 3 months ago

I would say that this is a "yes" and "no" question.Only God knows what is in a person's heart so a person could be just as "religious" as the next guy and never set foot in Church. So, in that regards, one could answer "yes" to that question.On the other hand, one could say "no." The Church, (feel free to substitute, Mosque or synagogue or any other place of worship) provide individuals with a church community that allows them to grow in their faith and to become better educated about their particular religion.There are many people who claim to be a particular religion and yet, have no real understanding of that particular religion's teaching simply because they have never studied the religion with a teacher. It is kind of like trying to learn physics without ever being taught it. You can open the book (in this case the Bible, Koran, or Talmud) and read the words but if no one really teaches you what the complex meanings of those words are, you won't be able to understand it.So, attending Church...and Bible study... gives the individual the ability to learn from others.Also the church community gives a person a sense of indentity and belonging that is good for their health. If a person makes an effort to go to services, they usually also make an effort to show their beliefs through other actions such as working in a food kitchen or some other charitable organization.The answer to this question is to watch what a person does. If they say that they are "religious" and they back it up by doing good deeds,living a good life, being charitable and/or going to church, than more than likely they are a truely "religious."However, if the person says they are "religious" and yet can not even be bother to worship in fellowship with others, do good deeds, is judgemental or basically does nothing, than I sincerely doubt he or she is truely "religious" in the truest sense of the word.Dena

jonas_opines 6 years, 3 months ago

hmmm. . . well, actually I should have said "Of course it isn't!," but I gather that tone got across anyway.

Confrontation 6 years, 3 months ago

No, because then there's no way for the church to pressure you for all your money.

jonas_opines 6 years, 3 months ago

Of course it is! You can be as spiritual as you want on your own, but religion is about human control and the material things of this world.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 3 months ago

If you're ever in a health "situation" which disables you from attending services, you'll find out quickly about how "religious" you are...I treasure my time in study of Scripture and prayer and meditation with my Lord...(Minister Gruber, I love my silent services with my Jesus!) I'm not sure that I would attend services (I'm Protestant) even if I were not "health challenged"...I was burnt out regarding church attendance from birth to age 17...and I believe that is so unfortunate for me. I would LOVE to feel the freedom of worship as Pastor Channell describes from Scripture, and I hope and pray someday that precious time will come for me. Often times I think making attending church each week a "family time" is wonderful, but if it's a harsh, hell and brimstone-type church, well, let's just say, it makes a very negative difference on your children than if you're attending a loving, accepting, non-judgmental church. I ought to know!! Having a personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, is the most important aspect of my whole life. It doesn't make me into a robot, or a religious fanatic, nor does it change my basic personality (as my family and friends will tell you!!)...I'm still outspoken and have fairly strong opinions (I know my family and friends are saying, "FAIRLY STRONG!!!??? HA!!!!)...They know I love them with all my heart, but if I have an opinion of my own, they will eventually know about it. I am ME... MYSELF...and the sorrow of that is I didn't realize how much God really loved ME until very late in life due to my very strict "religious" upbringing. When I finally realized HE LOVES ME JUST AS I AM...I was able to go to Him with all my faults and sins and unload them all before Him...and because He delights in mercy, He just tossed them to the uttermost parts of the deepest sea (Micah 7:18,19.) Oh, the peace! As I've mentioned in other comments, I sit at His feet in continual worship and adoration. He died for me. He was resurrected for me. There are PERHAPS a few loved ones who may die for me...but none can be resurrected for me. Only my Lord. He's preparing for me and I take Him at His Word. (John 14:1-6) I just want to ask you one question...What have you got to lose in eternity by trusting this gentle One?

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