I am nearing the end of one incredible book, Why We Love The Church, by Kevin De Young & Ted Kluck. As I was reading chapter 7, Ted started to list some of the reason he loves his church. As I read, my eyes filled with tears. Faces began to pop into my head. Faces of people I love. Faces of people I respect. Faces that I never would know if it wasn’t for attending my local church. At this point, some might be tempted to roll their eyes and think, “You work for the church, of course you love it.”. And that is true. But, working for the church just gives me that many more opportunities to sin against my church and be sinned against. :) I get to see the awesome, great, and not so great moments. I see it at it’s best and I see the not so perfect parts too. But, that’s to be expected. Why? Because the church is comprised of redeemed sinners. No church is perfect. And mine never will be…’cause I’m in it! And the imperfections don’t disillusion me, they make me that much more grateful for an all-Powerful Creator that is over and working in the people I love. Why do I love my church? I’m so glad you asked. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to listen for awhile. See, there are SO many reasons I love my church…
- Selfless Serving. I am constantly amazed at the countless ways my church serves each other. Here are a couple of examples. This past May our singles were attending NEXT ‘09. Singles are poor and a couple of our singles were struggling financially. They wanted to go to NEXT, but they couldn’t afford it. Over the course of a couple of Sundays we made a very brief announcement, “Not all our singles can afford to attend NEXT. Please consider sponsoring a single.” Nothing huge, no handkerchiefs. In less than 3 weeks families in our church gave over $2,000 to help our singles out. I know the folks that gave. Most of them don’t have a lot of cash, but they gave anyways. Or we have a family that’s struggling financially. Not only is their care group caring for their souls, but they’re having a garage sale. All the proceeds from that sale are going to that family. Another example is Wendy & Ed. Ed was very sick. Almost blind and about to go on dialysis. His family was prepared for the inevitable, Ed would most likely be going to meet His Savior. Then, God moved on Wendy’s heart (a single gal in the church). She donated one of her kidneys to Ed, quite literally saving his life. Those are just some of the many examples of how my church family serve each other.
- Accountability. I worship with people that genuinely care for each other’s souls. They don’t just stand beside each other on Sundays and then live separate lives. They are in each other’s lives. They confess sin, they lovingly confront, they resolve conflict, they mourn together, they laugh together. They eat at each other’s homes, go on vacations together, do field trips together, bring meals, and babysit each other’s children. They are a group of real people living life together. They’re a community with one goal…glorifying God.
- Preaching. Too often this aspect of a church is overlooked. But, preaching is one of the most priceless gifts God can give us as Christians. So often I have sat and listened to one of our pastors and the sermon has direct application to something I’m struggling with. I’ve had the Holy Spirit convict me of sin and comfort me with His love. I’ve been struggling with something during the week and the sermon will come to me. I remember and I am encouraged. My pastors spend hours praying and seeking the Lord. They do not take their jobs lightly. They seek the Lord about what they should preach on. They decide the next book of the Bible or series, and then each week they spend many hours (in addition to counseling and administration) studying, praying, and preparing. They love their flock and they serve selflessly to care for their souls. Preaching is one of the most important ways they care for our souls…and they take it very seriously.
- Care Groups. I love going to my care group! It’s made up of around 20-35 (depends on the week and college/work schedules) singles. The age ranges from 18 to 35ish. I don’t think it’s possible to have more opposite personalities and church backgrounds than what assembles in that room every Friday night. We should not be friends! But, every week we squeeze into our pastors home, worship (loudly but often off key, and at times off tempo), share how God is working in our lives, talk about the sermon, and spend hours talking over the snacks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to care group tired and discouraged. God always uses the people in that room to bless and challenge my heart. There are times I don’t want to go, but I know that I should. Every time I’m so glad I did! They are an awesome group of people. I am so grateful that we’re in the same local church!
And I could go on and on. I could tell you about Emily, Erin, Wendy, Michele, Christa, Jessica, Josh, George, Matt, Julie, Joshua, Esther, Dan & Kimberly, Sarah, Danny & Nikki, Creed & Kristen, James & Kelli…you get the picture. The people that have affected my life over the past six years. I love my imperfect, selfless, loud, crazy local church! What a gift from God!!!