I sat in the small room, facing my pastor, and desperately tried to listen to his words. Questions were swirling around in my head and I had to keep internally slapping myself and screaming, “FOCUS!” A couple of weeks prior, my pastor had confessed a sinful nature to the congregation. It rocked the church to its soulful core, dividing the members, and fueling harsh criticism of his behavior. I was numbed by the news and tried to make sense of it all.
My pastor and his wife had asked me my husband to meet with them to hear their side and ask for our support. This was the man who spoke at my sister in law’s funeral, counseled my children, and prayed for us during extremely difficult times in our lives. After he asked me the question, “Can you support me in continuing my role as the pastor?” I collected my thoughts, and whispered to myself, “God give me the wisdom.” I proceeded to tell him, I loved him and forgave him, but at this time, I could not trust him to lead our church. My husband agreed and we made the decision to walk away.
Church is a sanctuary for me. For the past several years, our family has been part of an awesome church. As I grow older, I find myself wanting to be more involved in church activities. I could have easily been dissuaded after my previous church experience, but have come to an understanding of what defines a church.
A church is nothing more than a gathering place of sinners.
A church is made up of people, some who are Christ followers and some who are searching for answers.
A church is a place to worship my Lord and Savior and to strive in improving my heart and mind.
Because the church is built and led by humans it is not a perfect place. But I have found if I make the effort in building relationships in the church, the members become more like family. And we know family is hardly ever perfect! A church home has been an intricate part of my Christian journey and I believe it has a purpose in our world today.
Strength in Numbers– I believe God listens, blesses, and comforts those who gather together in His name. Whether it be Sunday morning worship, bible study, prayer circles, or community service, God is present. He hears our prayers, sees our good deeds and is pleased with His people. The members’ actions of a church can be the light shining into the numerous dark places in this world. “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.”-Matthew 18:19-20 NIV*
Encouragement For All-Our church provides many services open to the community such as Celebrate Recovery, Grief Group, Discovering your purpose, finance classes, mission trips, and bible study. The support groups and classes provide a service for both members and non-members. What a great example of demonstrating how Christians are not “perfect” and have issues and need assistance like everyone else. We can open the doors of the church and invite anyone who needs encouragement or support to come in. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:25 NIV*
Lead by Example-Our church has a focus and commitment to future generations. The mentoring of the youth is a priority for our church and offers Sunday school, bible study, vacation bible school, and Sunday evening worship for the children. Classes are also offered to learn the different volunteer areas in the church (music, video, mission work, scripture memorization, etc.) and assist in developing the talents of our children through media, music, choir and play performances. We have a ministry called AIM (All Inclusive Ministry) which meets the special needs of people in our church and community. We also host an annual Special Needs Family festival to celebrate the abundant life of special needs families and provide connections to vendors in our community. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”-Proverbs 22:6 NIV*
Human beings are made to be social and worship, or have faith, in some object or ideal. I choose to have faith in Jesus and to worship Him as my God. I also choose to be in a setting with other people who share the same ideas of God, praise, and worship. I see the church as a safe place to be social and practice my faith. It meets all my personal needs and provides aid to those who are less fortunate in the community. So when someone asks me the question, “Why do you belong to a church?” My response is “because it feels like home.”
* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society