I have this saying…There are a million reasons to leave a church, but there are always a million and ONE (+) reasons to stick with it.
Being a part of a church community can be really hard…
- It can be hard to find your place, to fit in. It can take FOREVER to not get lost in all of the hallways and classrooms.
- It can take a long time to feel connected and feel like you are valued, cared for, and that you belong.
- Once you finally feel like you have a place, people can sometimes disappoint you, upset you. You might upset someone else, and we don’t always talk about the elephants in the room. You might disagree on something, and you have to lean on the positives, the trust you’ve built, and things you all have in common to move through that difficult time.
- Choosing to be a part of a faith community is tiring, and church decisions (because it often takes a group to make a decision, not just one person) can feel like a slow-moving ship instead of a speed boat.
- When we share in many facets of our lives together, we see the good, the bad and the weird parts of each other. We are forced to reshape the way we view God, the traditions that we grew up with, and the way we view basically all of Creation. Perhaps hardest of all, we have to reshape the way we view ourselves, and stretching growth is really tiring and sometimes feels like standing on shaky ground.
- When we are a part of the same church community for a long time, we see new things sprout up (like booming youth groups) and other things fizzle out (like that same-dwindling-youth group). We see long-standing traditions and holiday events come and go, and we are not always in the leadership group that gets to make the decisions of whether things stay or go.
- And with the gift of longevity comes more praises and grieving among us. We’re each getting older, so sometimes people get sick and die. Beautiful babies are born and grow into incredible humans. We swell with pride, and we shrivel with sorrow, sometimes all in the same day.
All of this, yet being a part of the beautiful mess that is church is so worth it. I’ve lived in places where church was a foreign concept and in Bible-thumping places, too, and my view of church is the same—a church is so unique.
Here are some of the “worth it” unique parts of any church community:
- Flawed people come together to serve a perfect God, the same God who created mountains and valleys, babies and puppies, sunsets and oceans. God is at the heart of every church, and the church is a holy opportunity for the mortal to gather together to be very close to the divine God. Wow!
- Life can be so very __________ (long, short, exciting, tiring, happy, sad, stressful, peaceful, confusing, fascinating, etc.). And a church community gives each of us an opportunity to NOT BE ALONE. We were created to share in life with others, and the church is a uniquely faceted, while not the only, opportunity to share in deep bonds of love with others.
- Friends of 40 years and of 40 seconds can sit in the same room and sing together and pray together. They can also drink coffee, eat cookies, serve in mission projects and discuss current events and ancient biblical text. They gather in each other’s homes, attend local musicals and baseball games together, and they share in the best, worst and in-between parts of REAL LIFE. This doesn’t happen anywhere else on the planet, folks. Not even at Starbucks (mmm…coffee).
- There is an underlying current that we are all loved beyond measure by a God who invented love. It permeates in our carpeted hallways, our baptistry full of warm water, and it sits in the air we breathe together. Without this underlying love, we are nothing.
- The church building is merely a warm, safe space to be the church (the people!). However, church buildings are built by faith, trust and a whole lot of sacrifice by people who knew church was worth it. They believed that with all of their hearts, and we get to share in the beautiful gift that is their time and talent. We get to “do church” in a space of someone else’s legacy. How cool is that!?
- Just yesterday I received a phone call from a man who was out of hope. He was ready to end his life too soon and was just too weary from life’s challenges. And he called our church! He didn’t know us from any other place, but he just knew that a church could at least listen to him and remind him that he was God’s beloved. Church (the people) meets us in our darkest times; it is our responsibility as fellow church people to pay attention, be present and (hopefully) not mess up our opportunity to step into Jesus’ sandals for a few minutes. Whoa, could there ever be a bigger honor!?
- Also, I’ve got to say this. We have 98 year olds and babies who are still dancing in their mom’s wombs ALL worshipping together. There is no other place on Earth like church, in the way people come together and try to seek the God of love. In turn, we do our best to grow and learn, and then we try to share that love in all corners of our lives. Not many toddlers can say they know non-relatives of every adult age; here, each of us can discover the value and wonder of all ages of life that are presented through our congregation. We can see the holy in ourselves and in each other.
- Of course, we’ll make mistakes sometimes; church is a place to honor each other enough to speak up when we’re hurt and do our best to move through the hurt to the other side, which is healing. And it takes all of us to open up our hearts and minds to let others in. You were loved from the beginning of time, and you will be loved forever and always.
So, is church worth it?
23—Toddler Camp!, 10:00-11:00am for 1 1/2—6 years old; active games and Bible story connections; all are welcome! Thanks for coming–it was so fun!
30—Kids’ choir rehearsal for Good Shepherd, 10:00—11:00am;
—Kids & Youth BAKING PARTY (bake cookies for Sunday Coffee Time), 11:am—1:30pm (pizza lunch)
31—Kids & Youth & Their Parents SERVE Coffee & Cookies to the church (mission project)! Setup, 8:15—8:45 am; Clean up, 10:30—11:00 am. (All kids singing will go to rehearse at 8:15am.)