I say this a lot. I love my church. I do. It’s crazy how much I love my church. That I can even say that about a church anywhere at all after all my family has been through at the hands of local churches is in itself a miracle.
So why do I love my church? Let me give you the latest example. Last Wednesday night my youngest son, Evan, attended a junior high prayer meeting at church. During that meeting time, one of the youth leaders stood and talked to the kids about the parable of the sheep. In case you are drawing a blank, Jesus told the story of the Sheppard who owned one hundred sheep. One little sheep went missing. The Sheppard left the ninety-nine found sheep and went looking for the lost one. The moral to the story being that while God certainly loves his “found” children, He is compelled to go find His lost ones.
So my son, along with all those other middle schoolers, was told that they, too, should care about the “one”. That they should think of a kid in their school who is the outcast. The one everyone picks on, who has to eat alone in the lunchroom, and that they should go after that one.
My son, who is eleven, gets into the car after church and tells me that during that prayer service he felt closer to God than he ever had before and that he couldn’t wait to come back to church. Then he told me about the parable, and their expected response. He told me that he knew exactly whom he was going after. He told me about a little skinny, awkward kid in his PE class that everyone laughed at and no one befriended. He told me that he was going to become that kid’s friend. I told him I thought that was a great idea.
So the next day after school, my son came home and told me, “I did it.” Having my mind on about a dozen things at that moment, I absent mindedly answered, “You did what?”
“I went after that kid, Marcus.” That got my attention. I asked, “You did? How?” Then Evan proceeded to tell me how the group of boys he was hanging with in PE began their usual snickering about Marcus. Right in front of them all, he walked over to Marcus and challenged him to a foot race. He let Marcus win. Then they talked for a while. At the end of PE class, Evan told Marcus that if he ever needed a friend, he could come to him.
Wow. I told Evan that many people, even grown people, go to church week after week, hear a great message, even feel all warm inside- but they often leave church unchanged. They never carry out the challenges set before them in church in any real tangible ways. They never let the Lord change them and grow them, but that he had been open to change and that God was growing him and helping him become the person He had in mind for him to be.
I want to hug those youth leaders. Over and over again. (But that would be weird, I guess.) So yes, I love my church. I love that I drive onto campus and feel the presence of the Lord in the parking lot. In. The. Parking. Lot. I know how crazy that sounds, but the proof is in the pudding.
I love that my kid loves church so much he even wanted to go to the women’s conference last weekend. How about your kids? Do they beg to go to church? If not, why not?
Andy Stanley once said,
“If you want your kids to abandon church when they are older, force them to attend a church you secretly wish you could abandon now.”
So how about you? Think about it. If you attend regularly, why? If you don’t, why not?
Do you love your church?
It’s a relevant question. You can certainly love God without loving your church, but that would be sad. When I stood with a couple thousand other women last weekend at the ReCreate Women’s Conference (I left Evan at home) and worshipped the Lord, I thought, “This is just the best!” God’s presence in that huge room was palpable. I never ever want to attend a church where God doesn’t show up. Seriously, what would be the purpose? There are plenty of places where God doesn’t show up… church should not be one of them.