“Stop expecting your church to feed you”.
Huh. That was a really interesting article. And one that has really hit home for us. I feel like every 1-2 years, we have the SAME conversation about the (c)hurch.
A few definitions how I think about (c)hurch. The church (small “c”) is the building down the road we go to on Sunday’s. The Church (big “C”) is the messed-up-people-loving-the-world-like-Jesus-with-the-Holy-Spirit-guidance.
So back to it. The church. It feels like once year, Matt and I stumble and struggle with the same questions. What is the point of going to church on Sundays ? Is it for people who don’t know Jesus? For “new” Christians who need info and encouragement and topics? Is it for “mature” Christians to deepen their relationships, to deepen their historical context of a passage? Is it for everyone, any human who walks in with anything to be loved and understood? Is it for cultural similarities or diversities? Should it feel like “home”? Should it be comfortable and welcoming or uncomfortable or honest or gentle?
I don’t know. And even among Jesus-loving-people living fully surrendered lives to Him, we still all give different answers. Which is why there are 20-some churches in one community. But WHY? What would Jesus want?
I don’t know. This is messy.
All I can tell you is where we are at right now with the (c)hurch.
Our church (small “c”) is one we drive to because we love the people. There is paid staff. There is a children’s curriculum, a screen with words, Bibles opened every week, with a speaker who speaks in everyday language. They speak on topics, from the Bible. I can tell you there are men and women leaders. There are both traditional and blended families. There are a ton of young families and not a lot of white hair (but a few). There are mostly jeans in the lobby and vans in the parking lot. There are some wheelchairs, and tired faces. There are an abnormal number of volunteers with smiles and a genuine caring heart. I can tell you anyone can walk through the door, in any situation, and be welcomed.
I can also tell you our Church (big “C) is one that yearns to fit into the bigger story of Jesus. Our Church meets twice a month in living rooms around cheesecake. We laugh and cry together. We hold babies and make food and give each other money when we need it. We volunteer on committees and elder boards. We walk zoo’s with our strollers and pray through exams. Our Church goes overseas and stays local and puts down roots in neighborhoods. We meet with other churches, even ones different than us, and find ways to find similarities and work together for the betterment of our community. We ask hard questions, and make each other uncomfortable in a comfortable environment. We are imperfect people, deciding to live in FREEDOM and for Jesus.
So. When Matt and I show up to our church, we are still in Jesus’s Church. Often, when we talk about the church feeding us, we start acting like toddlers, not liking what they put on the table. But I stopped and considered the food they are offering — it is still honest nutrients with the core vitamins intact. Jesus. The Bible. Service. Repent. Love. Disciple. We ARE being fed. The servers are a sometimes a bit messy because we are in a Church made of real people. But that’s ok.
So our conversations are now changed. We are trying to be less of a picky eater. And realizing the hard work of the Church. It’s not for the faint of heart, trying to move as ONE when we have so much diversity and differences and preferences. It’s hard to not compare or complain just because the ONE way we want to go to church isn’t what’s being offered right now.
It’s hard for me you guys. It’s hard for me to trust and not be cynical. It’s hard for me to fight the wanderlust and desire for change and stick around and put down roots. I need to fight for my soul to be gentle and calm. But let me say, since this awakening this month — I’m meeting more people in the lobby (introvert’s worst nightmare but I’m working on it). I’m meeting their eyes, and wondering what brought them to this lobby today. What story do they have and how is Jesus moving with them. And suddenly the church (little “c”) that I go to on a Sunday morphs into the larger story of Jesus and His Church.