“Walks the Walk” – Reno News & Review
I understand why people don’t church-faith-religion-yoga hop. Like with any hobby or job, there’s only so much time in the day. I’ve been doing this column for more than three years now, and I’ve become a bit jaded by it. I learned a lot in the first six months, things I had trouble processing. I mean, it fairly blows my mind that every religious faith teaches essentially the same things: Love one another, take care of those less fortunate, express honor for something bigger than humanity. But it’s been a while since I was even a little surprised.
Bottom line: People find a place—any religion—in which they feel comfortable, and they land. They don’t need to continue searching. People will probably find people who look like themselves, perhaps who have similar heritage. I think that the de facto segregation is horrible, but that’s the way it is, and some loudmouth church reviewer isn’t going to change that fact.
Now, all that having been said, my eyewitness religious sophistication has taught me to appreciate the nuances among pastors. I think there’s only been about four whom I’ve recommended simply for their ability to hold an audience. I’m way past those pastors who yell at me, confusing bombast with passion. In fact, it’s a lot easier to say what I don’t like than what I do, but here goes: I like intelligence, knowledge, insight and sincerity.
I think Pastor Jim Wallace, 58, pretty much nails all of those. I caught his sermon at the nondenominational Christian Risen King Community Church on Mother’s Day. It’s one of those strip mall churches that are much bigger than they look, but they’re never all that magnificent. They often have small, active congregations, but always seem to lack something that comes from a greater press of humanity.
That’s a shame because sometimes churches like this one are pure quality. There’s good music (sort of a Lawrence Welk folksy vibe at Risen King), excellent multimedia presentations (a little weak on the software, but great sound and preparation), and great fellowship (friendly, but not smothering).
The décor of the sanctuary is fairly simple: eggshell walls, a large stage with a wood lectern in the center front, mics for three female singers, keyboard, three guitars, and a drum set that wasn’t used that morning. The back of the stage had a pastoral mural, looking vaguely European, perhaps because of the archways. There were a significant but not overwhelming number of potted plants. In short, the sanctuary was comfortable but not ostentatious.
The service began with announcements and requests for prayers—a couple is moving to Wyoming to manage a hunting and fishing camp, a young daughter is taking over the blessing at dinner, a family needs prayer because of illness.
The reading was John 6: 1-15, which tells how Jesus fed 5,000 men with five barley loaves and two fish. Rising out of this was Pastor Wallace’s sermon: How to deal with difficult or impossible situations.
Referring occasionally to his own ongoing battle with cancer—not begging sympathy, but accepting—the pastor gave a three-pronged plan: 1) Recognize that life’s difficulties are tests that will deepen your faith; 2) Give all that you have to Jesus; 3) Resist making Jesus into something he’s not.
Pastor Wallace offered insight into a story I’ve heard for nearly 50 years, and he did it in a way that inspired me. I hope people will take the time to check out this church—the service was about two hours—even if they’re comfortable in their current space. This congregation would welcome newcomers, and it deserves to grow.