Please Pass the Peace

A generation ago, humanity craved a sense of purpose. Christianity thrived, as churches were instrumental in providing outlets of purpose as committee leaders, Sunday School teachers, and ambassadors of missions in our communities.

Today, humanity craves a sense of peace and Christianity has yet to answer the bell.

I don’t know many people who are complaining about being bored. As a result, churches must stop taking for granted the fact that multiple weekly programs are needed “just because.” Frankly, churches accept the fact that Sundays are no longer days that are owed to the church.

I don’t know many people who are craving additional stimuli. As a result, churches must accept the fact that they no longer have the market on dynamic music, community dinners, and inspirational speaking.

Most importantly, I don’t know many people who are looking for a good debate – even our daily news has turned into an opportunity for political contentions. As a result, churches must accept that those whose attendance we crave have very little tolerance for one more argument.

Have you heard about the Millenials?

Generation M

Every week, a new blog post comes out with the same title: “Why Millennials are Leaving the Church.” So, let me take a stab at answering that question:

Because millennials are human.

Any human without a historical sense of obligation to the church is not going to be inclined to hang around as long as they’re needs aren’t being met. It is not fair to expect church attendance to occur “just because.” Christendom is over.

So What?

I have caught myself spending a lot more time defining my faith in terms of that which it is not, as opposed to that which it is. This has lead to an argumentative stance that is as bad as the fundamental/conservative church that I claim to be so different than.

It is becoming more and more clear that while we are more connected as humankind, our relationships are also largely undeveloped. Thus, we must hold ourselves responsibly to be having conversations of great depth in meaning. We have little time to be arguing with idiocy.

Humanity needs both a sense of purpose and a sense of peace. Therefore, in order to drive millennials (and any other humans) back into our spaces of worship we must speak more passionately to who we are.

Like these students at James Madison University did in the presence of a homophobic “preacher.”

I believe these three things:

– The message of God’s love for humanity offers the grace, peace, and belonging that humanity (even Millennials!) desperately need.

– The majority of millennials have thoroughly rejected the tenants of the shallow, narrow-minded, homophobic church.

– The more time that we waste our voice in futile arguments with these sinful churches the more we will be tuned out and deemed irrelevant too.

We must offer up a transformative song of love in our churches that is loud enough to drown out the arguments that millennials, you, and I are tired of hearing anyway.

Do you agree? What would this look like in your church?

More Day 2: Lessons from the Community Garden

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Below was written by Mackenzie O’Connell

Today I went to an Open Land farm. Open Land farms are community gardens in Chicago that aim to supply the community with free vegetables and fruit, and raise local property values. My group went to a garden owned by a sweet lady named Queen. Queen is 70 years old, almost completely deaf, and takes care of the large garden all by herself. Before arriving at the garden, everyone in my group was in need of a nap and dreading our three hours of labor in the dirt and hot sun. I thought that this garden would be extremely overgrown and dead, but once we arrived, it was beautiful and filled with blooming flowers and green grass! At the garden my task was to weed, but others in my group mowed the grass, weed-wacked, and organized a compost pile. Throughout the day Queen said whatever popped into her mind, and it was hilarious and helped make our work much easier! I asked Queen what she did with the vegetables after she harvested them and her response will forever stick with me. She said “When you eat the vegetables alone, they don’t taste good, but when you share them with others and eat them together, they taste much better.” Queen’s comment meant so much to me because often times I focus on what I don’t have, rather than the abundance of things I do have. I realized that I should be re-focusing all of that energy towards giving other people what they don’t have and what they need. After we finished gardening, my group stepped back to look at what we had done. The garden looked even more beautiful and every single one of us felt accomplished! I wouldn’t trade this day for anything and being in Chicago has opened my eyes to a different kind of world and because of people like Queen, my life and attitude towards things will forever be changed for the better.

-Mackenzie O’Connell

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Day 2: Finding What We Didn’t Know We Didn’t Know

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The following was written by Abbey Bolinger about an experience as described to her by Hayley Sinclair.

When Hayley got home today she was openly excited about her day and how she saw the effect she had on one man. His name was Millard. He is currently living in a daycare facility for senior citizens with Dementia. Hayley decided to take a seat next to Millard and began talking to him. She was surprised how much he was willing to discuss, and also how happy he was when he talked, even though he had difficulties remembering details about the stories of his life. The man told her how he played in the Chicago traveling orchestra. He couldn’t remember any of the places they went, except Germany. He loved talking about Germany, because he repeatedly told her that it was beautiful. Hayley then asked him if he played any other instruments, however he couldn’t remember. So, Hayley asked if he could play the piano. He responded with, “I don’t know any songs, but I just love playing around on the keyboard.” Millard asked Hayley if she could play for him, but she was hesitant. Surprisingly, she told me how she played songs from Phantom of the opera and Fur-Elise. She noticed how mesmerized he was by her playing, so she asked him if he wanted to be taught how to play the same songs she had just played. I was shocked at how open she was to teach him, but thought it must have been an amazing moment. Hayley was interested when he told her that he could think of absolutely everything in his brain, but he couldn’t get it out to talk about it. He enjoyed just spending time with her, even though they were only playing patterns on the keyboard. At the end of playing, Hayley had made such a connection with this man that she wanted to know more, so she asked him about his family. He was a little reluctant at first because he was having trouble recollecting, but then told her he had children and grandchildren. It was like Hayley was helping him remember music and that was helping him remember his family.At the end of the day, he told her how thankful he was and what a good day he had spending it with her.

 I loved hearing her story.

Sometimes on a mission trip, it feels like we didn’t do any work, and then sometimes we feel like all the work we did won’t do a bit of good, but then other times like today, it all feels like it made a huge difference. I think Hayley made a big difference and I think Millard did too.

Hayley & Millard

 

Read what happened on Day III