I Love My Church

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.

2 thoughts on “I Love My Church

  1. why don’t I attend church regularly? I have heard several sermons that have told me that attending church is not about me. It’s not about my enjoyment, it’s about worshiping God. I do believe this, however it’s hard to worship the Lord when uncomfortable. I am distracted by the people around me who worship in ways that are different than my way. I don’t judge them, I know everyone worships differently, but I can’t relax and focus on the Lord when I’m distracted like that. I love Pastor Chris’ sermons, it’s just the worship during music that makes me edgy. Therefore when Sunday arrives and it’s time to think about going to church I remember the awkwardness I feel when there and I choose to stay home.

    1. Kelly, I really love that you are reading my blog. Now its you and my mom. 🙂 Kidding. I do appreciate that you take the time to do that. I had no idea that you felt that way about the worship at HIghlands. Believe it or not, I do kind of understand. I grew up in a small Methodist church where there was never a hand raised, or a hand clapped. No swaying, dancing or certainly no jumping! “Worship” was very reverent, and predictable. Very safe. I know that if I had come out of that tradition, straight into a Highlands style of worship, it would have had my eyes bugging out and I would have felt totally weird. I know I would have wondered if the people were for real and just what they might have been smoking prior to the service. Thankfully, because of the different churches Matthew and I have served in over the years, we have gradually been a part of congregations that were ever more open or “free” with their worship. Now, Highlands worship is just normal to me. When I go back to visit the church I grew up in, I feel a sadness that they don’t experience what I do at HIghlands. It’s just different, I’m not shooting it down really, but I know that what happens in me and through me in worship today is so much sweeter than back when I was growing up.

      My suggestion for you, (not that you asked for one :)) is this. Make it a matter of prayer. Ask the Lord to help you open your heart and mind to worship the way He enjoys it best. I think of it like this. When I get my kids a really great gift, when they open it, I hope for the real “WOW” factor from them. I like it when they jump up and down, dance around, laugh, clap… whatever. I think the Lord likes it when we do the same in response to Him. Our worship is an expression of our love and gratitude for the God He is and all He has done. It’s quite a lot to get excited or joyful over.

      Next, I would try coming to a service and sitting out in the cafe for worship. Watch it on screen, listen to the music, connect to God right where you are sitting, and then go in with everyone else for the message. After you feel good about that, try out the Theater during worship. The crowd is smaller in there, the folks in there are a little more low key. Even try sitting up close to the stage so that you cannot see others as you worship. Baby steps. Then little by little back yourself up so that you can feel a part of the whole worship experience. I truly love to sit nearer to the back of the auditorium so that I can see everyone worshipping. I just envision the ceiling opening up and God looking in. I love to see the people, God’s people loving on Him. I’m not much of a hand raiser, but I love to clap and sway. I love to sing. And the Spirit of the Lord really does inhabit the praises of the people at COTH. I love getting to be a part of that.

      I really think this could be the enemy at work, fooling you, robbing you. He loves it when you stay home. He doesn’t want you to be a part of great worship. But God is patient and his property is always to have mercy. So He will work with you, bring you along. And if I can help you in this, just let me know. I’m at the 9:30 service every week. I would love to join you in the cafe or in the Theater, if that would help.

      Grace to you… and peace, Stacey

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