“What a Culture!”

 In Featured, Pastor Jason's Blog

By Pastor Jason Kramme


This summer our nine-year-old took the plunge into Taekwondo. To say that he was nervous before his first day would have been an understatement. He had never participated in a group TKD class, and he (that includes me) didn’t have the foggiest idea how to tie the belt on his uniform.  

We tried to make our way to the back of the studio where we could tie a simple overhand knot, but we were intercepted halfway by two little boys wearing perfectly tied purple belts.  

The older of the two boys stopped my son and asked, “are you new?” and before my son could answer, the next question came, “do you know how to tie your belt?” 

“uhh, no.” 

Before my son knew what was happening the boys wrapped him with the belt, talked him through the knot, and then began introducing him to the other classmates.  

I was so impressed. “What a culture!” I thought. 

It’s been an awfully long time since we were preparing to gather after a long hot summer for the fall season at church. My sense is that some of you are feeling a similar mix of emotions to those my son was feeling his first day of TKD. 

How close should I be to others? 

Will everyone wear a mask? 

Will I recognize people? 

What if I forgot all the responses in worship? 

Do I know where everything is anymore? 

After Emil’s first class, I made it a point to tell the instructor how much I appreciated being in a place with a culture that welcomes new people. His reply was interesting. He said, “boy, it sure has taken a long time. They are pretty nervous, but they are getting better!” 

Emil was nervous AND the kid helpers were nervous.  

For those of you that are planning to join us in-person for the first time in a long time, I want to acknowledge and affirm what gives you pause about potentially coming back on-campus. I also want you to know that we are serious when we say that we are a community even when we meet online. So, if that is where you feel most comfortable, then amen.  

For those of you that have been on-campus or that plan to be on-campus for the first time this fall, I want to encourage you to be like the two little boys at Taekwondo. If you’re wondering what that looks like, then here are a few concrete ways you can express our culture as the Connecting Church:  

Before you leave home:  

  • Check in with your health. Nowadays the best way to express our culture is by not expressing our germs. Join us online and say hello in the comments.  
  • Invite your network. Send a text, send an email, or knock on a door to invite friends and family to worship.  

In the Parking Lot:  

  • If walking isn’t a problem, then park a little farther away. We have a beautiful new parking lot with plenty of spaces close to the door for people with walking challenges. Make it a point to make some room.  
  • Slip on your mask before you get into the building. Interestingly, our most vulnerable members are near the doors before and after services. Senior adults are waiting for rides and kids are waiting for their parents.  

In the Welcome Area and Community Room 

  • Say “hello!” to who you know and ask for names of the people that look vaguely familiar. When we restarted Student Ministry last year, most of the kids grew close to six inches. It was hard to remember names, so I made it a practice to ask if I needed to jog my memory. The sweetest sound to anyone’s ear is the sound of their own name! 
  • Ask “are you visiting today?” The worst that can happen is that they say no and you get to have a conversation about how long you’ve loved attending POP. The best that can happen is you can follow their “yes” with a “how can I help?”  

In the sanctuary, chapel, and program spaces 

  • Look for people who were sitting there last time you were here and then say “hello.” Can you imagine coming to the same place for a decade to ten feet from someone and then never ask their name? Get to know the neighbors! If you see someone new move into your row or group of rows, be a welcoming neighbor and welcome them to worship.  
  • Look for people that are looking for things. A lot has changed in the past year, and unless you’ve seen the incremental changes, you don’t know how to use the space. For example, we DO have large print bulletins. We DO have hearing devices. We DO receive offering. But, you DO have to know how to use those elements of the space.  
  • Share some tips. After you use our spaces for a while, you learn a thing or two. For example, in the sanctuary, the clearest sound is in the middle bunch of rows. At the front door, there are wheelchairs. At the front desk there is a lost and found. During communion we have gluten free wafers. You don’t know if you don’t know!  

The Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John and (definitely) 1 John, wrote this to a church community he was supporting:  

“2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 

Through the community of Prince of Peace, so many of us have come to join in God’s fellowship and to know God’s joy. Isn’t it right that everyone who comes to our church should experience the same through their interactions with us?  

John goes on to say:  

“1 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” 

Let it be so. Let God’s love come to form in each of us in the way that we intentionally love and connect to all those who enter our community. What a gift it is to be called to be the connecting church. I pray that you would consider these simple ways and that you would add your own in the comments. Together we will create a more beautiful church and a more beautiful image of our savior. I think that would be something that would leave people saying, “wow! What a (Jesus) culture!” 


Jason Kramme serves as the Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Stewardship

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