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3 Ways to Find the Right Post-COVID Church

Hi there, Friend,

You have had a rough eighteen months.

Jobs, schools, friends, and families… Everyone has had the kybosh splashed over them from the onset of this Pandemic.

But – You’ve come to a decision. You want something more to gather you back into your society and community.

Finding a church to attend is a fantastic way to get back into Life.

You feel a need to be in a community worshipping God. That’s Awesome!

No one wants to wear the wrong sized shoes.

A church can be like a pair of shoes. If the shoes hurt your feet, you can’t wait to take them off, and you’ll never put them on again!

Same with finding the Right Church. You want the correct fit. You want to feel safe, welcomed, and wanted.

Let’s Find You a Church

Three Ways to Help You Find Your Church.

  • Did You or Your Family Practice a Certain Denomination?

Do you have a starting place, an earlier religion, or denomination you followed?

Many children are brought to a church by a parent or guardian, like a grandparent or foster family. Thus, early religious experiences guide adult steps.

Some attended a Religious Education program through school or a school that is based on a denomination.

Did you enjoy your earlier years in a church setting?  

Some had a terrible experience in church, sending them away from the church – instead of finding inspiration there.

What precautions are in place? For example: do they practice ‘safe sanctuary’ with a minimum of two adults in attendance around children?

  • Does this church follow the Bible?

Joining a church begins with discovering what they are all about. Jesus is about Love.

Do they teach Bible principles? Are there education programs set up for children, teens,  and adults?

What doctrines and core Bible lessons does this church teach?

Pre-Pandemic: many churches had a thriving educational program.

Small groups Bible studies have the highest success rate. This is because Laity and Pastors/Priests leading these study groups take personal growth in Christ Jesus seriously.

  • Do they have a social presence?

Most churches today have a social media presence.

Online – Zoom has become a popular way to invite others to a Bible study and to a live broadcast of the church service.

Check out their website or Facebook page.

Churches that take time to update and post on their website regularly are interested in keeping the congregation informed of upcoming events.

What mission projects the congregation is doing, and how others can become involved.

What is their outlook on Missions? Do they have missions in the community that you feel drawn to work with them? Community projects bring people of faith together.

Do they have a particular time for children? Do they provide a nursery?

Is there music and singing? Do they sing while wearing masks?

All these enhance a church service and add meaning to any church gathering.

Here’s Your Final Checklist:

When looking for a church: Google it! And then:

  • Check to see if they have Facebook or Website pages. (Have you watched any of their recordings?)
  • What are their core beliefs? Are they a Bible teaching church? (Are there Sunday School and Bible Study courses for all ages?)
  • What mission(s) are they busy within their community? (Do they work with a Food Pantry, Homeless Mission, Laundry, or Housekeeping Help?)
  • What safety precautions are they using to keep everyone healthy? (Do they have a cleaning and disinfecting team?)
  • Are they meeting online, in a church sanctuary, or both? (Review past services and work they’ve been busy with throughout COVID.)
  • Do they have a synopsis of their church/pastor/priest on their website? (Most websites have an ‘About’ page or a ‘Pastor’s Corner’ page that tells you about their church and what God inspires them to do in our world.)
  • Can you see yourself there and identify with what they represent? (Are there any programs you see yourself drawn toward?)
  • Does it “Feel” like God is calling you to their church? (Trusting God to lead you to the right place is special; God won’t mind your due diligence!)
  • It’s time to go and see how you feel there…(Were you welcomed? Or did you feel like you were wearing the wrong size shoes?)

If you are looking for a church; Come look at mine.

I record and post our church services onto our Facebook page and website. (Besides hosting Bible Studies and Meetings online.) We teach the Bible.

We have opened our sanctuary to church services and record our service online.

We meet Sundays at 10:30 AM; https://phoenixnyumc.com and 49 Jefferson Street, Phoenix, NY, 13135, or on Facebook; https://facebook.com/fumcphoenixny/

Our Mission statement:

“Welcoming All to Unconditional Love that Leads us to Christ as a Church Family.”

Come and be a part of our family of God or use the suggestions to be a part of your new church family. Our world needs more people involved with God’s view of our world.

We want our visitors to feel welcomed, safe, and happy they chose to worship with us.

So, come see what we are all about at the 1st United Methodist Church of Phoenix, NY.

Cynthia Saarie is a certified Lay Minister in the United Methodist Church and a certified professional copywriter. You can reach Cynthia through her website:  https://cynthiasaarie.com

What About Your Baptism?

What do Methodists believe about baptism?

The official doctrine of The United Methodist Church in regards to baptism is this: Baptism represents believers’ repentance and forgiveness of sins. It also signifies new birth and the beginning of a person’s Christian discipleship.

God called believers to Him in baptism through water. They believe in receiving salvation through Jesus’ dying in their place with the symbolism of water as an exchange for Jesus’ blood. By dripping water over their head, and by making a public profession of that faith through the outward symbolism, the water washes away their sin.

United Methodist’s believe that you can be baptized at any age.

Many parents have their babies baptized and declare during the ceremony that they will raise their child in the Christian faith and teach their child the precepts, or laws, of what it means to be a Christian following Jesus.

Along with Communion, Baptism is a symbolic ritual that clergy perform usually during a church service. But, Baptism, unlike Communion, can be done in an emergency by laity and congregants of a church.

If, for example, a person is in an accident and was dying, a non-ordained person can baptize that person before their death. Something I learned in one of my Lay Speaker’s classes.

Does this mean that those that are not baptized will not go on to Heaven?

No.  While it is important to be baptized, being baptized does not mean it grants you automatic salvation or an automatic ticket into Heaven.

Getting Baptized is just the beginning of an ongoing process of responding to God’s call to you.

Baptism begins your life-long journey of learning and growing in your faith. Salvation ultimately requires trust in Christ and the acceptance of God’s grace.

What does it mean to grow in God’s Grace?

Oh, you get a faith lesson today!

There are three distinct kinds of Blessings God gives to His children.

The one that surrounds us all without anything we have done to earn it is Grace, God’s Grace.

When you accept Jesus as your savior, you fall into what’s called God’s Grace. Gaining God’s Grace is not something you’ve earned, you haven’t done anything to deserve God’s Grace. God bestows it upon all who proclaim Jesus as their savior and they place their faith and trust in Him.

Living within God’s Grace is a wonderful favor God blesses us with when we decide to follow and trust Jesus.

Some religions will not baptize you until you are old enough to purposefully accept Jesus as your savior. Not so in the United Methodist Church. Any age can be baptized.

The United Methodists’ denomination, decided that children and babies can be baptized in the church because their parents proclaim during the church service to the congregation, they will raise their child in the Christian faith and teach them about their saving faith in Jesus. There is also a response the congregation makes back to them.

Of course, we all know how that is abused by many. They stop into a church for their child to be baptized and are never to be seen again.

Does this mean that they are not saved? That they won’t go to Heaven?

Not necessarily. God’s Grace is open to everyone that declares Jesus is their Lord and Savior and that they trust in Him with all their Heart, Soul, and Mind. Not everyone that makes that declaration goes to church. God knows a person’s heart. He knows who trusts in Jesus.

But it is also true, that those that come in for a fast baptism, Wham/ Bam, thank you, God, and then they go off and live their lives without another thought of Christ Jesus… they can’t expect to end up in Heaven.

But I digress, God is still God and can do whatever He wishes, but…

Grace is a Free Gift, and it is extended to only those that Profess openly and without hesitation, that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. That their faith is only in Him for their forgiveness of sin and their salvation.

God slathers on Grace to His people. When you are covered in God’s Grace what can you expect?

In the Holy Scriptures, we can gather more information on what it means to live in God’s Grace… in Romans 5:1-2 in the Message Bible.

“1 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with Him, make us fit for Him – we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. 2 And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His doors to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide-open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

I love the way the Message Bible says those words, standing tall and shouting our praise…

When you have accepted Christ Jesus into your life and asked Jesus to become your Lord and Savior… You entered into God’s Grace.

When you live in and under God’s Grace, you know you have all of God’s attention. You can come boldly before God and tell Him what you want or need. You have the right to stand there and shout, or cry, or plead your case, or jump for joy, or stamp your feet in anger… You have God’s personal and undivided attention.

You no longer need to fear that you are a lost soul. You no longer have to think that no one cares about what you think or do with this life you are living. God sees you. Hears you. And desires to be a part of you and your life.

I see the differences God makes in people’s lives. Their eyes tell the story of how God has become more important to them than their own life. How they have given every part of themselves over to God. Is it heretical to do so? Crazy even – to give all and everything of themselves over to God?

No. When you experience God personally, there is no going back. You won’t be able to deny His existence. You won’t be able to hide the love of God you feel toward God and toward everyone you encounter. It flows so easily out of you that you wash others in God’s love. You can’t help it. God is now a part, a LIVING part of you. You symbolize Baptism. You wash others with God’s Love, just like He washed you.

That’s when you become truly Baptized in Christ Jesus.

You become astutely aware of what Jesus did for YOU. Dying on a cross for You. Living now again – inside, and around You.

As we heard in our first Scripture lesson:

1 Peter 3: in verses 13-15 

 

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Tell those that ask you about Jesus. What you have experienced living with Christ. Tell them how you experienced your TRUE Baptism. How Jesus made all the difference in your life. And that you’ll never be the same, ever again, because HE washed away and forgave all your sins, cleansed, and made you whole.

And if you are listening in or online, tuning into today’s service, if you don’t know Jesus and would like more information… I urge you to contact this church, or another United Methodist Church in your area, and ask them about becoming a baptized follower of Christ Jesus.

Jesus is the reason I am here today with you. It is through my love for Him and the Grace He has given me freely, that I come to lead you in God’s grace and love today. AMEN.  (Hymn: Freely, Freely pg 389)

BENEDICTION: LORD, when we come before you in our baptism, breathe into us, and place Your Grace around and in us. Let us Learn about You all our days and raise our Families in the Knowledge of Christ Jesus. We ask this in Your Holy Name, AMEN.

 

What is it that differentiates Christians from the Rest of the World?

Before COVID…    

I was a part of a trivia team. Every Wednesday, we’d meet at a local Pizza shop to play a trivia game that makes our minds work and brings up an easy, competitive edge. We would eat an antipasti salad, wings, and pizza before the game begins. We were allowed up to eight players on a team and no cell phones, shouting out, or singing. We ignored that last directive; as we sang along with the music, the director plays in-between questions. It was a good night out, especially when we won. It’s still would be a good night out, if we ever get to start again and don’t win.

 That last night out at our friendly competition, the director asked us a question that we missed. 

Two times during our seven sections of five questions, we are asked separate questions. Each is a five-point bonus question. If you choose to answer the question, you risk gaining or losing five points. We thought we were able to answer and turned in our answer.

 The question: What is never the same in identical twins?

 Well, let’s think about this for a minute: Twins have different first names, then one of our team mentions George Forman and his boys all named George.

 Okay, that is not the answer. 

I mentioned that they are not born at the same time. 

Good, the group agrees that it’s the truth. Even fraternal twins are born at different times. We turned in our answer. 

We were wrong.

 The question should have been a little more specific on a physical trait because the answer was the twins have different fingerprints. 

 Duh, of course, it is fingerprints. We were right, but not right with the answer the director wanted. We Lost the five points. We didn’t win last night.

  What does this have to do with a Christian article? Not much, except to segue into my question at the beginning of this article. There are many right answers to some of life’s questions, but only one that the director of the game of life is looking for us to answer.

 What is it that differentiates the rest of the world from Christians? 

 It’s these questions that require us all to answer correctly:

  • Do You Believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • That Jesus was divinely conceived and born of the Virgin Mary?
  • That Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, who ruled Jesus was crucified on a Cross?
  • Where Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed grave?
  • On the Third Day, Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the Right Hand of God?
  • And that Jesus Will Come AGAIN?

 If You can think about these questions and answer in your heart and mind that you DO Believe, then you have answered correctly. And you win much more than the five points; you win the forgiveness of your sins, and Eternal Life when you die. That sure beats pizza and wings any day.