I walked into this movie theatre and expected the worst. Church in a movie theatre was a new concept to me. When I was growing up, I went to church every Sunday. It was this big elegant church, with 1000 pews from front to back. A place people would go to have a large wedding or to see a baptism.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, in Kitchener, Ontario.
That was all I knew of church. That was all I had to compare to. I thought I knew how church worked. Apparently I was wrong.
I expected the churchgoers to glare at me from the side. I expected the pastor to look at me like I wasn't supposed to be there. I was an unfamiliar face in a crowd full of friends and family. I was introduced to the pastor. I was introduced to musicians and other attendees.
I felt welcome, which is something I didn't expect. Sure, everyone tells you that you'll be accepted with open arms, but that doesn't mean that you expect it to happen.
I went to church for a very close friend. He's a musician and plays in the band that sings the worship songs at this particular church. I didn't go because I was trying to find myself, or because I felt like I had sinned. I went to support a friend.
This is an example of the worship songs that I'm talking about. Samuel Soga, the friend of mine I was supporting at church, is in the middle. Along with other friends of mine Josh and Jonathan.
It honestly didn't even feel like a church service to me. There were no hymns, there was no organ, no pews, no preaching gowns or clerical collars. Instead there were worship songs with the lyrics shown on a projector, there was an electric guitar and a drum kit, there were comfortable movie theatre seats and there were jeans and sweaters.
They had multiple different speakers, one of which included my friends father. He is a preacher, and speaks with so much passion and conviction. Now, I'm not someone who is religious and yet I noticed that I took every single word he said and really heard it. And whether or not I was relating what he was saying back to God, or religion, or just my personal life, I wanted him to never stop. My eyes were closed and I was listening with so much intent.
It felt like the words he was saying were flowing through the air and right into my soul.
The sermon was all about finances, and being a student I could most definitely relate. The pastor, Darrell, was talking about how difficult it is to not be rich, even though Canadians are among the top 20 per cent of richest people in the world. He was talking about how difficult Christmas time is for people, because we are so worried about spending money that we don't necessarily have.
He related all of this money talk back to the church, but that didn't mean I couldn't relate to it. The thing I took most out of this was when he started to talk about tithing, which means "to give 10 per cent of your annual earnings."
Sure, it originally was meant as a tax to the church or clergy, but that's not necessarily how I chose to take it. I said to myself, that if these people in this room can give 10 per cent to their faith, I can give it the less fortunate, or save it for my future.
I decided that as a non-religious person in a setting like this, where everyone around me is emerged in the faith, that I would take these words and essentially erase the religious parts, and BAM! they applied to my life. It was like I was at a TED Talk or some other really passion filled lecture about how to save money while still spending money.
In retrospect, I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to connect with or really understand anything that was happening in church. I was scared that I would be confused and bored.
But in reality, it was the complete opposite of all of these things. I could connect with the word on almost every level. I understood every word that was coming out of Darrell's mouth. He spoke in a way to make it inclusive to all people, and not just people who were there to hear the word of God. It's felt like he knew that I wasn't religious, and was trying to make me comfortable ... It worked. I wasn't bored at all.
I was totally involved and so interested by everything he had to say.
I would definitely go to church again. It's not going to change my religion or my opinion about religion, but it really could help me cope with all of my day-to-day issues. They speak about real pressing issues, they speak about things that everyone can connect to, religious or not, and they do all of this with a real passion for it.
I found that religious people are the most passionate people, and whether or not it's positive or negative passion, and whether it's about religion or something like food, it's the truth.