Days Gone By | Teen Ink

Days Gone By

March 4, 2016
By Maxolm GOLD, Norton Shores, Michigan
Maxolm GOLD, Norton Shores, Michigan
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Is was that one place, yet different than the time before. Years separated the event but they both had the same intention, and a different outcome. That place is called church. When I was younger my family often went to church every Sunday if we could make it. But this stopped when I was about 6, so it has been some years since I have been there. Only about two weeks ago is when my life changed for the better. A cultural experience is an event that expresses new ideas and new themes that you aren’t usually connected to. The purpose is to allows people to experience something out of their normal comfort zone, and to witness other events in order to see what another culture does. On Sunday, february twenty-first was the day I was reinvented to the culture I was originally part of but it was a totally different experience. I never knew walking between two simple doors would open up so many lost connections that are now restored inside me once again.

The church is called Life Change Church, which is located on Whitehall Road in Muskegon. Although bucolic in setting, the church is relatively close to my house making the peregrination easy. The difference between my years of church experience is the fact that the entire church structure was laid out completely different, including the people inside. The entire building environment was not what you would expect when walking into a church, it wasn’t quiet and humble, in fact, it was quite the opposite. People were laughing all around me and wearing whatever clothes they thought necessary to come to church with (mostly blue jeans). This environment was not at all what I remembered from the past. All I remember about church was everybody dressing up and looking nice on Sunday mornings and congregating inside a giant stone temple with beautiful stain glass windows and a offering box sitting right inside the door. Not to mention the humble priests in robes helping you find your seat. This drastic change in environment was the reason I chose to write about this event, to compare overtime the changes in church beliefs and customs. This Life Change Church certainly held up to its name, for that Sunday morning reopened my eyes to something that was lacking in my life, and that was that weekly time with common people all striving toward a common goal. Yes that is it, why it was a cultural experience, because it reintroduced me into the very same culture as I once belonged to, but in a completely different way, a more modern and less tense way. The entire morning I was surrounded with people (still in blue jeans) willing to help me and answer any questions that I had. No matter which situation, it is helpful to have someone familiar with that culture and who is willing to make it a priority to help you fit in is reassuring, especially when they know you are new and want their event to stick with you and to get an idea of how their Sunday mornings start. It was also way less tense and formal than I was expecting and surely than I remembered. Besides being at a different location, everything about this church was much more modern. There was a cafe in the right portion of the entrance, there was people of all diversities and ethnicities, people with a random set of raiments on, and there wasn’t any stain glass windows located anywhere throughout. This change for me felt reassuring and guided me through a watchful morning, able to pick up more because I wasn’t worried about if I didn’t dress up enough or bring in enough money to support the church. Everybody seemed together, from the rock band type songs with full audience interaction, to the want to spend a Sunday morning with no fear of judgement, the whole environment is what changed this experience.
When you think about a church, you typically think of a solemn place in which you quietly listen to the pastor and sit in the pews contemplating each week with a nice suit on occasionally looking up at the refulgent stain glass window above giving off a variety of colors. But this was certainly not the normal routine at Life Change Church. I chose this specific event because I wanted to get back into the habit of going to church, so I figured I would look around and see if I could find a similar church to the church I went before because that is all I knew. But my results came out different than I expected, in fact, opposite. Life Change Church is no doubt a very new modern type of church, stressing more on one’s communion with God and not about your outward appearance, making it a easier and less judgemental service. But this is a relatively new modern idea that has changed churches of the same faith to more of a social gathering of all types to take part in a single event, making it a cultural experience of the ages. This experience made me wonder if this new type of church is a global revolution and happening in other cultures, or just happening throughout the U.S. It gave me new insights about how people who sought change actually changed and went to doing something they felt comfortable with, which is the biggest and most important reason, doing something that makes you happy and comfortable to get the same message across. Even though this change may be generational and frowned upon by older people who were devout in their religion, this change is for the better because it allows a day where everyone can just be together and experience a truly blessed morning. It is all about change, and change is what prompted this essay, a permanent cultural change that is for the better. As quoted by Charles R. Swindoll, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” (Swindoll). Attitude is one of the things it takes to experience a culture outside of your own, it takes guts and a determination to choose an event that personally will  help you meet you initial goal. No matter how or where it is done, change comes from within. New ways of thinking and admiring the same thing you did before in a different way is hard, especially with years separating occurrences, is challenging. But if it wasn’t a challenge I wouldn’t be writing this paper. Both events are equally good and neither one is better than the other in intention, but Life Change Church does offer an easier transition back into the church life than the original church so to speak. It allows for freedom of self over what the norm was.

In a traditional church setting, you are expected to look nice on a Sunday morning and to donate something upon entry and no food or drink is allowed. This way of church life is completely fine, but it made me feel restrained even though I was little. I felt demanded upon to look a certain way and to act a certain way. You were required to sit in straight pews and to grab a bible from the back of the row ahead, and to listen intently at which litany the priest was reciting. Singing songs in a melody and a slow paced way. But this Sunday morning was harder for me to relate. I felt like dressing up and all other procedures were required and you had to look a certain way to fit in. But at Life Change Church it truly doesn’t matter what you wear, or where you sit, or what you sing like, or what you are eating at the moment, it is all about personal comunian and to feel comfortable in what you like doing. Change in customs is not always bad. As stated by Austin Sparks, “It is possible to take parts of the New Testament, as to doctrines, practices, work, methods, and order, to piece them together, and to frame them into a system to be adopted and applied. This is the mechanical or 'ecclesiastical' method, and it is capable of an almost endless variety of presentations, resulting in a very large variety of organized bodies, every one of which claims the New Testament for its authority.” (Sparks). This new method of congregation is what instilled that long lost connection of faith back within me. This change shows our culture is willing to change and take steps in order for everyone to feel like they are okay and not judged for what they are doing. My question is does this change in church happen in other cultures or just here in the U.S? From my gained knowledge from this experience I hope it happens everywhere because change is good from a new standpoint.

Whether it be Sunday morning or any other day of the week, it is important to feel right in what you are doing. Life Change Church reopened doors in my life I never thought possible for a cultural event. From once a norm, to a long break back into that norm, now I can make that one cultural event a part of my normal routine. I discovered change wasn’t bad, and that not always does a suit make Sunday’s what they were intended to be. The structure of a church does not matter, but the interior does. The people who want to be there and want to continue their journey with faith do. The heartbeat is the strongest, not the shell. Who knows, maybe I will wear my pajamas next time and buy hot chocolate with my one free item at the cafe because at Life Change things like that are okay.



Works Cited
Pavao, Paul F. “Quotes about Modern Christianity.” Christian History for Everyman. Greatest stories ever told. 2014. Web. 28 Feb, 2016.
Swindoll, Charles R. "Church Quotes." ThinkExist, 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

The author's comments:

Culture encompasses lots of things... Look at my article and see my modern view...

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