In case you are here for the first time, I am in the midst of a 31 day series on loving the church. Go here to read more 31 day series by different bloggers on all kinds of fascinating topics. Go here to read my introduction to this series.
My husband and I have been members of the same church for 15 years,
which is the same length of time we have lived in our metro area. In
fact, our church itself is only maybe 16 or 17 years old. We have seen
our church go through all kinds of changes over the years. Not all the
changes have been fun, or what we would have chosen.
series I will draw heavily on my own experiences of being part of a
church for many years and through many seasons of life (both my life and
the life of the church).
When we first came to our church, we didn't know a soul. We had been
referred by some friends to check out this church, and so we did, on our
second Sunday in town. While we were excited about our adventure as
newlyweds in a new city, we were so very sad to leave our old church which had nurtured us in our last years of college, our dating
and our first year of marriage. How could we find another place to worship that would live up to our expectations and desires?
Our first Sunday at church was completely underwhelming. The
congregation was sparse. The music was, um...not our favorite. And
that is putting it mildly. We may have criticized on the way home.
And yet, the pastor and his wife were sweet. We met one other couple
that happened to live near us. And, for some weird reason, we were
fairly certain that our church search was over.
I can't say I was happy about it. The building was dilapidated. The
stairway down to the bathrooms was downright scary. I know we had some
grumpy Sundays, missing what we had had before. Needless to say, it was
not love at first sight between our church and us.
So why in the world did we stay? Why are we still at this church, 15 years later?
For one thing, it didn't feel right to choose a church based on its
amenities. The church is not a hotel or a restaurant; its primary
purpose is not to cater to our likes and dislikes. While the music
wasn't what we liked or were used to, we knew we would hear the gospel
every week. While the bathrooms may have left much to be desired (like a
ceiling that wasn't made of a sheet of plastic), the people we met
loved the Lord and seemed to want to get to know us (imagine that!).
In retrospect, it felt like an arranged marriage. We knew
it was a good match on paper, and we hoped that the warm and fuzzy
feelings would grow over time. And we didn't plan to go away just
because there were a few things that were not our first choice.
So what does this mean for how we as believers are to love the church?
It means that we don't distance ourselves because we are holding out
for something better. It means that we don't bug out when we get a
little irritated with things. It means that we bear with the church's
foibles because we realize that church is not all about us and our
It means finding a church that preaches the gospel and is as near to our communities as we can get. And it means sticking with it.
Questions? Comments? I'd love to have discussion on these points, as I know there is NO WAY I can cover every salient point.
I am not an expert on all these issues. Tomes have been written on
most of these topics. I'm writing these posts from the perspective of a
lay person and wife of a pastor, and based on my own experiences.