Before I ever had any Biblical or spiritual revelations about the church and its importance on the Earth, I loved it. Since I can remember, I have been in church even though my parents never took me. I have memories of riding a bus that came through my neighborhood when I was about five and going to church somewhere in Odessa, TX. Throughout my entire childhood, I attended all sorts of different churches: Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, you name it. I always made friends who would invite me to church and I would go.
First and foremost, in my life, the church represented healthy relationships. It was a place for me to escape the dysfunction of my tumultuous home life. Sitting in a church pew is where I felt most at peace; it’s where I made friends who loved me and truly inspired me to become more. I can picture youth leaders, pastors, worship leaders, and potluck lunches that all brought a sense of community and love to my life growing up. I don’t even remember the names of most of the people or the locations of some of the churches.
As adults, we can’t ever lose sight of the importance of connecting with people who visit us for a Sunday service. Most of them aren’t walking in the doors because the Bible says not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” They aren’t typically coming in to “usher in the presence of God” or to “worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Most people walk through the front doors of church because they want a place to belong. They want genuine friendships. They are in crisis and need answers. People want moral direction and positive influences on their children and teenagers. Most people I know come to church initially for a refuge from the outside troubles they are facing.
Long before those same folks have a revelation of Christ in their lives or come into relationship with our Savior, they come to church desiring a place to fit in. A place that will accept them as they are and for who they are.
Greg and I see ourselves leading a church that will attract people from all walks of life. We want a welcoming environment that isn’t weird or intimidating. We want to speak a language from the platform and in our small groups that someone totally un-churched (as most Australians are) can understand. We know that as we make genuine friendships and love people, their hearts and minds will open to the deeper things of God.
As an adult, I now know why it’s imperative that we connect and join a local church. I understand what God has to say about it. I believe so strongly in its mission and purpose on the planet that I’m giving up everything I have ever known and moving across the world to start my life completely over at age 35 to start one with my husband! From scratch.
Who knew that the seeds planted in me while making macaroni crafts at five or going to small group in 6th grade would be watered and fertilized so much that my entire future would be tied to my belief about and love for the local church? Hopefully, this series of blogs will ignite a passion inside of you for the church too. It matters.