Substance Church. No, this is not a church that focuses on substance abuse. It is about living a life with substance, with God at the center. It is a life filled with purpose, love, balance, adventure, and most importantly, God. I figured that if I am going to be writing about faith, I should probably mention my faith background.
While I was raised Catholic, I would now simply consider myself a Christian. Growing up, I went to mass every Sunday with my family. We even went when we were on vacation in Hawaii, and anywhere else for that matter! There were parts that I loved, parts I did not understand, and other parts that were just painfully boring. I would have to say that it wasn’t until I was in college at the University of Minnesota that I started to question why I was even going to Sunday mass in the first place. I had always had a personal relationship with God, but for the most part He seemed pretty distant in relation to my everyday life. The only reason that I could come up with for why I was going to church every Sunday was because I wanted to uphold my good Catholic reputation. When I came to that ephipany, I realized that was probably one of the worst reasons for going to Church; status, reputation, and my ego. I immediately stopped going to church until I could come up with a better reason. I still prayed and thought about God a lot, I just wasn’t making it to church on Sundays.
It wasn’t until the Spring of my Sophomore year at the U of M in 2007 that I started going to church again. I was in a public speaking class and one of my classmates, we can call him John, was doing his presentations on the history of Christianity. I was talking with John after class and I asked him where he was currently going to church. He explained that he was going to a church called Substance and he asked me if I would want to try it out sometime. At this point in time I was feeling pretty lost, and I knew I needed to get myself back on track. I remember thinking that the name sounded a little silly, but he was really cute so of course I said yes! (I just love it that God used whatever it took to get me back into a church!)
At this point in time, Substance was a teeny tiny church that held its services at the University of Minnesota – St. Paul campus. We went to the 8am service, and I think there was about 20 of us in the room. Pastor Peter not only led the message, but I also think I remember him playing guitar in the worship band as well! (Now the church is at 4 different locations and has 7 different services you can attend.) This service was completely different than any Catholic mass that I had been to. There are three things in particular that I remember about my first time visiting Substance church.
1. It didn’t feel like “church” to me, but I really liked it.
2. The band was absolutely amazing, and they played Stand by Hillsong, a song that I immediately fell in love with.
3. I had never talked more about a message the following week in my entire life.
It wasn’t until Thursday of the following week, when I was telling someone about the message for the 10th time, that it suddenly dawned on me. Wow. In my entire life of attending church, I had never shared anything about the messages I had heard at church, let alone several times throughout the week. This was something different. This was about to change my life forever.
I began to attend Substance church regularly and started to realize they were saying pretty much the same thing my Catholic church had been teaching. They just taught it in a way that I could understand and relate to. The most important thing that Substance church, and specifically Pastor Peter helped me to realize, was that God was present in my life right now. He cared about the life that I was living, and He was alongside me every minute of every day. All I had to do was draw close to Him, because He was already there for me, all that time. It is so funny how such a simple truth can completely change the way you look at everything in life. Now, God is a part of my day, all day and everyday.
That pretty much concludes the beginning portion of my faith story. Of course I still have my ups and downs in my relationship with God, but now I recognize more quickly if I am started to drift from God. Substance church just happens to be the catalyst that helps me to connect with God on a deeper level. I have an extreme passion for music, and that is something they put a lot of work into for their services. I also love the amount of time they spend on the messages. I get a huge chunk of new material every week to lead me, challenge me, and steer me onto the path of Life.
Every denomination worships and learns in a different way, but the important thing is to find the one that helps you to grow with God the most. At the end of the day we all hear and should extend the same message of the Christian church and that is LOVE. Leave all the judging up to God, and love your brothers and sisters.
Substance Church: http://www.substancechurch.com/