Seven years ago this September, we started attending a new church plant. It was at least a thirty minute drive from our house into the most liberal city in Texas, so unlike the quiet countryside I lived in. It was a plant from a huge mega-church in another state and was being pastored by a man who was kind of a “celebrity” in the worship music world. All reasons I did NOT want to go, not even to try it once. What if God told us this was our new church family? We wouldn’t, couldn’t say no. We’d be stuck.
But my husband had already decided, so we went and have continued to go to just about every event and gathering they’ve offered. We’ve served, we’ve worshipped, and we’ve loved on others.
At first there was an immediate draw, an authentic kindness from the pastor, an all-enveloping acceptance from the others, and an overwhelming display of passion for the things of Jesus.
It was good. I was challenged and grew in the Lord.
So how is it that I find myself feeling like an orphan in this same church as of late?
I’m sad to say that almost no one there seems like family anymore. I’m going to be open and honest and tell you that I have felt this way for nearly two years now. Lately, the last five weeks to be exact, I have not been able to get myself to even go.
It’s Sunday morning, I’ve just finished watching three different church sermons online. I am as passionate about Jesus as I’ve ever been. As I sit here on my bed and type, I long for a church family that notices when I’m not there. I long to be a family member who notices other’s absences too. There has been such a revolving door at this church lately I don’t actually know who is still attending and who has gone off to greener pastures.
I want so desperately to be part of a family/fellowship close to home so that ministering to the community means loving on my immediate neighbors, people I’ll run into in the grocery store, not people I’ll never get to see again. I want to actually do life with the people in my fellowship not just show up to a small group and pretend everything in life is just fine. I want what the first century church had, sharing all things together. But that statement is probably welcomed quicker coming from the person with a lot of really, good stuff to share, like a boat or lake house.
Honestly, I don’t know what happened or who’s to blame.
I could say that our church doesn’t seem to confront or take a stand on the difficult cultural issues Christians face today maybe because there are so many differing viewpoints, which makes for a weakened fellowship. I could blame the long distance for not being able to spend more time with people. Or the dispassionate leadership for the revolving door, even lack of love in the fellowship. I could also say that it’s actually my fault because when I felt neglected, unaffirmed, and abandoned, I emotionally ran, rather than speaking up and fighting for my church family.
The reality is all of those are a little bit true.
Yet none of them really matter.
In my own family all of those statements are true also. We still love each other, know when someone is absent from a gathering and find out why, and get real with each other when someone gets emotionally hurts. We make plans to spend time together and also just show up at times too. Our hair, makeup, clothes and house doesn’t always have to look perfect. We’re comfortable with each other. We do life together because we all see ourselves as family whether or not we agree politically, have all the same interests, are close in age or decades apart. Even if we don’t like each others kids or the way they’re being parented, nothing permanently separates us, Because we are family, we always work through things.
So, if a bunch of people, even extended family members who don’t all believe that Jesus is Lord, can do this, why can’t His body, the Church do this?
I want a real Church family, one that is forever.
I’m looking for the gathering of people who feel the same. Those that truly believe that Jesus is more important than anything and loving Him means growing in Him together. They seek His kingdom and His righteousness together and trust that all that they need will be added to them as well. They don’t identify themselves by their career, color, nationality, degrees, body type, or anything above their Christianity. They believe we are all sons and daughters of the King, on level playing ground. They believe the Word of God is alive, powerful, and the only truth. They renew their minds with that truth and choose to forget the things the world taught us all. They walk in Kingdom ways and even though this may be a constant battle they are willing to fight it for themselves and others.
I don’t believe that a fellowship should be filled with unbelievers thinking about possibly, one day, maybe belonging to the family if everyone will overlook their “faults” that they don’t want to change. And at the same time having a say in things and influencing decisions. It may sound pleasant to the ears but it is not the way the first century church grew, multiplied, and was blessed.
The Church of Jesus Christ has in it only true disciples, surrendered to their Savior’s will, brothers and sister in Christ.
So where are y’all? I sure do need you!