“We noticed you folks taking pictures, so I thought I’d talk to you. Not that I think you’re terrorists, but you never know.” That’s how Jay, head of security, introduced himself -- and I really appreciated it. It’s a sad but true thing that churches have to think through how to keep their congregations safe. Like recent school shootings, church shootings continue to be front and center in the news. Church leaders need to have plans to deal with all contingencies, and they need people like Jay keeping an eye out.
Romans 12 or Ephesians 4, it’s a necessary part of 21st-century church life.
Peoples Church in Fresno. We got there early, so I took a walk around the grounds before going inside the auditorium. The gym had tables set up for a banquet of some kind; I looked in the youth room and the playgrounds. Mindy sat in a courtyard outside the prayer garden and peeked into the prayer room while I looked at the buildings for Fresno Christian School, which isn’t run by the church (the website calls it a church partner). There is also a large chapel next to the large sanctuary. And just outside the chapel, lunch was being served.
I really appreciate it when a church can serve meals. Peoples Church has worship services at 9:15, 11:00 am, and 12:30 pm. During the first two services, the church offers children’s and youth ministries (described in the announcements as a “fun and safe place to learn about Jesus in age-appropriate ways”), but they’re not in the third (nursery care is available for all three services). If someone volunteered by teaching Sunday School, monitoring the parking lot, or providing security before or after going to a worship service -- that makes a long morning. It’s nice when a meal is available. Even better, meals provide a great time for conversation and relationship-building, and we need more avenues for that at church.
people in bars we were visiting for our other blog. Folks said they liked Peoples Church and particularly Pastor Dale Oquist’s preaching.
Pastor Oquist also made some announcements and encouraged people to pray for God’s blessing on another local church, CrossPoint Church and their Pastor Johnny Mendez. (I’m guessing praying for a different local ministry is a regular thing. How great to view other churches as coworkers rather than rivals!) Pastor Oquist introduced himself saying, “I’m happy to serve you each and every week.”
Leviticus 17: 10 -11 and the Jewish laws against drinking blood and noted the theme of blood runs throughout the Bible.
Do you know how hard it is for pastors to resist making three points? So few can resist the temptation.
John 6 where Jesus said people must “eat His body” and “drink His blood.” Pastor Oquist said this passage “obviously” shouldn’t be understood literally. It wasn’t obvious to many of Jesus’ followers -- who left Him because of His words. And it isn’t obvious to those in the Roman Catholic church who believe in transubstantiation, the doctrine that the bread and wine, in reality, become the body and blood of Christ. I happen to believe Jesus was using powerful symbolic language, but that hasn’t been obvious to people throughout the centuries.