4 reasons to shop for a church

Last weekend I attended service at my old church Mosaic in Los Angeles. And every time this place just blows me away with how awesome it is.

Now, I didn't grow up going to church, on the contrary I grew up with stories at the dinner table of my parents in Catholic school being told, by their teacher, to go to the window and look at all the kids in the playground on the other side of the street who are going to hell -- literally. I grew up in a very anti-church household. And no surprise, all the benefits I'm about to list were sorely lacking from my household. Nothing against the Catholic Church, word on the street is this new Pope Francis character is possibly the most Christ-like pope ever with all of his humility and non-judgmental preachings of love.

But before I get to the list,  let me give my own definition of church here: an organized community, with a weekly meeting, where people come together to share an experience, and support one another in improving their perspectives and actions to love themselves and their neighbors.

Shop for a church, because when a church works for you it:

  1. Helps you see the big picture

    It's really easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday life, work, dating, having kids... and that doesn't even include the stuff that might go wrong! Good church-time is designated time to focus on the big picture of what you're doing with your life. There's going to be one, or a few, consistent leaders who run the show how they want to, so shop for a someone who gets to you.  The first time I went to Mosaic, Hank was sketching pictures of the human brain on a whiteboard, explaining stress in terms of evolutionary biology, and quoting Jesus from the Bible. My point being, religious nomenclature is irrelevant, as Gandhi said, I am a "Hindu, ... I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.” If you're not having an experience that is both emotionally and intellectually moving for you, then you're at the wrong place.
  2. Helps you have an attitude of gratitude

    Life throws rocks at us, then kicks us when we're down. The ability to deal with difficult situations is absolutely necessary for success under any circumstances. And emotional fortitude is key to the ability to keep moving forward. One of the best ways to walk around a downward spiral is to see someone whose problems make yours look like a joke. And there's plenty of people like that, and stories of them in every religious text. A good friend of mine just pops Shindler's List on the TV whenever she's feeling mopey, but this post is about going to church, so I recommend actually physically talking to other people, because going to church...
  3. Helps you help others

    "Why would you do something for someone else if they're not paying you?" (One of my former managers was seriously befuddled.) Well.... you could develop meaningful relationships, an intrinsic sense of self-worth, and even make genuine friendships with people who aren't just trying to get something from you. I can't emphasize that last part enough. Especially in our over-advertized, billable-hour-obsessed-time-recording, lawsuit paranoid, media-fear-rhetoric-sensationalized, sexually repressed, insecure, ultra-competitive, and hypersensitive America. Shop for a church with community service activities that you can relate to and get involved in, or even just unstructured social time with other members that you can share life advice with. Because really church...
  4. Reminds us that despite the overwhelmingly rapid rate of change of technology and our physical world, the people problems have been (and will be) same-shit-different-day for thousands of years.

    And a good church that works for us, is one that gives us good guidance on what to do about it. Erwin knocked it out of the park with his sermon last Sunday (part 2 in a 6 part series on happiness). My favorite part was what he did with the parable of the workers in the Vineyard, and relating the text with his own entrepreneurial adventures and the likely challenges that many of the young Hollywood people have faced. "I never knew I had so many friends as when I failed." Because misery loves company. The real friends are the ones who celebrate your success, the ones who are happy for you. If your happiness is dependent upon other people not getting (the job you wanted, the same money you made in less time, or more money, or more things, etc.) then you will be a miserable person. Everything that has uplifted us as a civilization has been rooted in communication, and everything destructive in competition. So help other people succeed, be genuinely happy for others who do succeed, and then when you have more to give, give more. 

Shop around, and find the church that works for you:

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