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The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston

The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston is senior pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, NY.

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Presbyterian Church (USA)

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Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY


Dr. Scott Black Johnston: Jesus Says, "Eat Your Broccoli!"

March 10, 2012

Will Willimon, the United Methodist Bishop of North Alabama, likes to say that it is our sacred responsibility, as people of faith, "to work with whomever Jesus drags to church."

Recently, I used this quotation in a sermon.  After the service a young man came up to me and said, "Sir, that wasn't Jesus.  That was my Momma!"  I laughed, and suggested that maybe Jesus and his Momma were in cahoots.

I was only half-kidding.

Over the past two months, I have been collecting stories of why people call a particular church home.  Why do you go to this church?  Most of those stories begin with a friend or family member who joyfully and enthusiastically recommends the church-a person who says; "I would love to introduce you to a community where my soul gets fed."

The #1 reason that an adult begins to attend a church is a strong recommendation-a positive invitation from a friend.

Youth are a different story.  Youth sometimes feel a bit of coercion has been applied to get them out the door on Sunday morning.  "You will go to church young lady!"  That sort of thing.

In a radio interview, Anne Lamott was once asked why she drags her 12 year-old son to church every week.  She responded, "For the same reason that I make him eat his vegetables.  To give him strength.  To give him what I found in the world, which is to say a path and a little light to see by."

Last Sunday was Confirmation Sunday.  At our church we welcomed twelve teenagers (one of the largest confirmation classes in Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church's history) into full membership in the church.  I know that the parents of these bright and beautiful kids have had plenty of Sunday morning battles along the way, but I also am willing to wager that somewhere down the line these children will thank their parents for it.  They will thank them for showing them the path and for gifting them with the Light.

[Taken with permission from Scott's Blog, "Sharp About Your Prayers.]


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