Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pivot 613: Not Your Typical Church

While I don't go to church every Sunday, I did start going to Pivot 613 ( this past summer because of an invitation from my "cousin" Ella here in Ottawa. Pivot is not your typical church. It is free of judgement and guilt. You can go in jeans and no one will hound you if you don't show up for a while or guilt trip you into tithing. That's not what church should be about anyway. As Paulo Mugarura (the pastor) says every Sunday, Pivot is all about "grace, mercy, and love." His emphasis is on Jesus not the shoulds, woulds, and coulds of typical churches. It's not about hell, fire, brim stone, and condemnation. It's not about show but about being real and honest. It's a small congregation, one you don't feel lost in. While the demographic largely consists of fellow Gen Xers, there are also some children, millennials (a big emphasis will be made to attract millennials as they are the most disillusioned with church and religion), and older people as well as the different races and cultures. I appreciate this - not necessarily being the oldest or youngest in the bunch. Paulo (he's from Uganda and has a great accent and awesome dreads!) started the church in Feb. 2014 that used to meet in Kanata. It now meets in Ecclesiax Church in the Glebe on Sundays at 3 p.m. Due to personal struggles and disappointing life experiences (and a lot of disillusionment, anger, disappointment, doubts, and apathy), I haven't paid attention to my spiritual life for years. In fact, I've been royally turned off from it all. It hasn't really been Jesus who I've had an issue with but with Christians and religion. I grew up in the church where I did experience love but also hypocrisy, judgement, guilt, and various degrees of fundamentalism. It was less about being real and more about show. When Ella told me that Pivot (it falls under the Free Methodist umbrella) was laid back and not your typical church, I thought I'd give it a try. Like me, she was disillusioned by the Pentacostal denomination she had been brought up in and how church had become. She was fed up and wanted a change. She needed a change. Today's service was very raw and honest. After the praise and worship time (the song "Risen" has been in my head for a good chunk of the afternoon), Paulo really shared from his heart about his vision for the church and past struggles of faith, doubt, and health issues that have affected him for the past while. He apologized for not being the leader he should be. His humility and honesty really resonated with me. That's what a leader should be. Honest. Humble. Full of integrity, strength, and love. Willing to admit he (or she) may be wrong at times but also determined and driven to move forward and do what needs to be done. There will be big changes at Pivot in the coming months, and Paulo admitted he can't do it on his own. Connectedness and community are two things that are part of his vision. Not once did I feel guilt about what we as a congregation should do. Rather I felt an invitation to be a part of something exciting. Thank Paulo for truly exemplifying who Jesus is. You're real and honest. Approachable. A refreshing change. I enjoy our talks over hot chocolate and tea. I appreciate your prayers, friendship, encouragement, leadership, and love. Pivot may kind of be restoring my faith. It's not about being a Bible thumper but trying to connect more with Jesus and living a life of love. After all, like the great Christian artist Keith Green said, "Going to church doesn't make you any more Christian than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger." L-R: Ella, Dahlia, Paulo, and Ayesha