Saturday, October 8

Here's Why I'm a Lutheran in Jacksonville

My church challenged me to "go," and this is the format I prefer over going door-to-door. In general, Lutherans don't "go" very much, so encouraging us to share our faith is normally about the words rather than the actions. Based on my electronic doorbell, I'd say it's pretty much Jehovah's Witnesses and nobody else going door-to-door. And "roof inspectors."

As I said, I'm Lutheran in a mostly non-denominational or Baptist city. Less than 1% of us are Lutherans, and that includes LCMS, ELCA, and WELS, whereas about 30% are Baptist or non-denominational. But I'm not writing this in order to convert those folks to my way of thinking about grace, communion, or baptism. It's all fairly similar, and the Christian church has bigger fish to fry. And speaking of fish fry, I'm not even trying to convince Catholics (10% in Jax) that the Reformation happened for good reason and that it's so 16th century of them to still be Catholic.

I'm writing because a reader might be thinking about attending a new church or sending their kids to a new school in East Arlington. I'm at Grace Lutheran. Besides the fact that we don't tend to "go" and do enough, I like it there. If you were brought up Lutheran or attended a Lutheran school, it's worth checking out. If you don't know anything about Lutherans or even Christianity, it's also worth checking out. 

Our pastor said he doesn't like the terminology of "church shopping," and I'd love to agree. However, I assume most non-Lutherans or non-Christians who are interested in my church will be church shopping. At other churches, you might shop, decide to join, and then also decide to get baptized. Lutherans would want the Holy Spirit to lead you. Like your personal shopper, I guess. 

Non-denominational churches will each have their own set of rules. You might agree with all or some of those tenants. LCMS churches follow the national LCMS rules. That can be beneficial. I suppose it can also be limiting. I like knowing what I'm getting and knowing where it's coming from. My pastors have been trained and certified by a governing body, and the school is accredited by LCMS, too. We have several hundred years of tradition and debate surrounding important church topics. Some churches can be just fine with a charismatic pastor who has an online degree in metaphysics, but that's kind of a gamble to me.

If something is missing in your life, maybe church can help with that. You'll meet some new people, and maybe you'll participate in some meaningful volunteer opportunities (or help us come up with some).  Even with the guilt and victim complex felt by many Christians, religious people tend to be happier than non-religious folks in most countries (sorry, Ecuador and Spain). In fact, religious Americans are very happy at a 10% higher rate than those who are not religious. That includes all religions, but I think plenty of Christians are happy. At least they always have hope. That means you can totally disagree with the state of things yet believe it will get better; and if it doesn't get better, you'll die and go to heaven where it will be better. That's easier than trying to create a perfect society through hippie communes or a VR world run by a billionaire tech nerd.

Anyhow, Grace Lutheran Church and School is on McCormick Rd, in between Monument and Kernan. You've driven past it plenty of times and now you know what it is. Stop in for Sunday service. I'd recommend the 11am contemporary service for new folks unless you're into old-school chanting and organ music. 

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