I don’t know what to bring.
You don’t need to bring anything! Meditation cushions are provided (as well as chairs), although you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer. Wearing lose-fitting, comfortable clothes is suggested, especially if you would like to use a meditation cushion and learn how to sit in a traditional meditation posture. And on the topic of clothing, keep in mind you will be asked to remove your shoes before entering the meditation space.
I have no experience meditating.
No problem! Zen Church is designed to introduce individuals to the practice of meditation. If you would like to learn how to meditate, or if it is your first time coming to Zen Church, we ask you to arrive 30 minutes early for some brief instructions on basic meditation. We hope to offer more in depth classes on meditation in the future, so stay tuned!
Also, if you are an experienced meditator, or have tried it out and would like to know more, Zen Church is a great place to further develop your practice.
If I’m not Christian, can I still join?
When we say “all are welcome,” we mean it. We believe that God’s love extends to all people, regardless of their religious (or any other) affiliation, identity, or orientation. We hope that Zen Church can be a community that is welcoming to all people, and that we can realize God’s vision of a “house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7b).
However, Zen Church is a Christian community, and so a lot of what we do is part of the Christian worship tradition, including reading from the Bible and celebrating the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. We invite you to participate to the extent that you are comfortable, and if you would like to learn more about Christianity or are interested in becoming a member of the Church, you are invited to contact Pastor Ian.
I’ve already tried Church, and it’s not for me.
We get it. Although people continue to identify as spiritual as much as ever, overall we are disaffiliating with the Church (and organized religion in general) rapidly. After 2000 years of the institutional Church, there’s a lot of baggage.
But at Zen Church, we believe that following Jesus is still a viable and vital path to follow in this lifetime, and we believe that the Church as a community is worth being part of. Zen Church tries to intentionally shed as much of the traditional and institutional skin as possible, to try to get at the heart of what it means to be a spiritual community following Jesus.
Through the practice of mindfulness, we hope to bring fresh eyes and a fresh perspective, or a “beginners mind” to Church, so forget everything you ever thought you knew about it and give us a try!
Can one be Christian and practice Zen?
Zen began as a sect, or “kind” of Buddhism (Zen Buddhism). This is a kind of Buddhism that focuses solely on cultivating mindful awareness in everyday living through the daily practice of meditation. The word Zen itself simply means meditation, and so it is not itself a religion or practice that could conflict with anyone’s beliefs. So if there can be Zen Buddhism, there can certainly be Zen Christianity, (or Zen anything, we would argue, as long as it is about bringing mindful awareness to what you are doing). We think bringing mindful awareness to our Christian practice is a worthy effort.
So the better question is “Can Christians practice meditation?” This is the question we set out to answer with Zen Church. And it’s unfortunate that we have to ask it, because although there’s a common perception that Christians don’t practice meditation, in reality meditation is an ancient tradition of the Church from its inception, and is something that has always been part of our tradition.
Also, like the millions of people who practice meditation regularly, we know that meditation works – in reliving stress, tension, and anxiety, helping us get in touch with ourselves, and growing in our connection to and relationship with God.