It's Time For The Church To Step Into The Kingdom

It's Time For The Church To Step Into The Kingdom

Why our priorities need to change.
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This week, I was in and out of about 50 different church offices. My friend and I were delivering information about The Apprentice Gathering, and annual conference put on by the Apprentice Institute at Friends University. Our job was to drive around town to each church on our list, go into the office, and deliver a mug filled with candy and information about the conference to the pastor of the church. Pretty simple. For most churches, we were in the building for 5 minutes maximum.

I learned a lot about American church culture in the three days we spent driving around, and I was shocked by what I found.

As an unexpected visitor, I felt incredibly unwelcome overall.

Almost every church we went to had their front doors locked with a buzzer system to get in. Some of them even had a two-way mirror on the doors, so that any visitors were unable to see inside. I know that these are safety precautions, but to me, what they said was "Go away. We don't want you here." I'm not saying that safety isn't important. What I am saying is that locked doors and two-way mirrors don't really preach the love of Jesus.

Once we were inside the buildings we would walk into the main office and usually talk to a receptionist. We would tell her (every single one was a woman) that we were looking for the pastor/reverend/father and explain that we were from the Apprentice Institute. At a few of the churches, we were welcomed with big smiles and the pastor would come out to speak with us immediately. At a majority of the churches, however, she would look at us curiously, ask if we had an appointment, and, when we said no, she would either let us speak to the pastor's secretary, or she would take the mug and promise to give it to him/her.

What's the big deal about that? The pastor is probably busy and doesn't have time to talk to strangers. Right.

The way I see it, it's the pastor's job to talk to strangers. We weren't asking for an hour of his/her time. We weren't even asking for 30 minutes. We just needed 3 minutes to explain the conference and hand the guy a mug full of candy. Somehow, though, 40 out of 50 pastors were too busy for that. They were writing their sermons and "not to be disturbed". Sometimes we weren't even given a reason we couldn't see whom we were looking for, we just weren't allowed to.

People: This is not what the Church is about. This is not what Jesus calls us to.

This mindset of being "too busy" or not wanting to talk to people because you don't know them is the narrative of this world. The call of Jesus is pretty clear: live with Him in the Kingdom right now. That means taking five minutes to talk to a stranger when they specifically ask to talk to you. It means making visitors feel welcome in the church anytime, not just on Sunday mornings when it is convenient for you. It means putting your own comfort (in the form of locked doors and two-way mirrors) aside to make others feel loved.

This is not some sort of do's and don'ts list that I think churches need to follow. This is somewhat of a gray area. We do live in this world, and sometimes we have to run by its standards. Safety is important. Getting a sermon written is important. But when those things get in the way of loving others, they are no longer important. Our churches need to stop running like businesses. We are not in the business of conversion. That is not our job. Our job is to preach the Gospel.

St. Francis once said, "Preach the Gospel wherever you go, and, if necessary, use words." If we were doing more of that (letting our actions speak louder than our words) maybe this wouldn't be such a problem in our local churches. If we were more concerned about loving people than about spending exactly 15 hours a week writing a sermon, maybe visitors would feel a bit more welcome, and maybe our churches would be busting at the seams.

But that's just one girl's opinion.


Cover Image Credit: Warren Wilson

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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My Relationship With Religion Will Never Be Black And White

and that's okay!

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I was raised Christian let's get that out the way. Growing up in a small town I went to Awana (a children's church group Wednesday nights) and then once I was in middle school started youth group that night instead as well as a normal church on Sundays. If you would ask me from me being really young to probably around 15 I was all about church and building a relationship with God.

After leaving public school and growing my presence online and meeting so many people from all walks of life, I started questioning things.

Suddenly, I was immersed in this community with the best people who just loved everyone regardless of gender or sexuality or race and it was the place I was able to come to terms with something I had always repressed, my feelings towards girls.

I knew the moment I started talking to a girl named Laura that I had feelings for her I would normally have for a boy and because of the people I now had around me I just didn't suppress it. I identified online and eventually to family and friends as bisexual.

My questions started with wondering how my god this loving all knowing entity I had always known was un-accepting and promoted the exclusion of the LGBTQ+ community from the Christian faith. I knew that this community was full of the most loving and creative and beautiful people I have ever met and that was the start of me knowing my relationship with God would never be the same.

As I grew up and have become an activist for the things that mean a lot to me I have stopped attending church and have begun to see that I do not want any part in ANY religion that takes part in shunning anyone based on how they identify. I have been vocal about this to many people some more excepting then others but regardless I will never again take part in something that I myself am not 100% accepted within

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