We’re married!!!! And back to reality after the best month of our lives. We’re in Oklahoma. We’re in a new apartment. We’re continuing to learn each other and learn how to keep enough food in the fridge to feed our hungry hungry hippo selves… and, we’re looking for a church.
The first weekend we were in Oklahoma together, we had the privilege of starting our search for a local church family. We had both been a part of several churches before. These churches weren’t just churches to us though. They were our family, our support system, our accountability, our encouragement and a heavy source of our motivation to live life sold out for Christ. The churches we were a part of played such a heavy roll in our relationship. I really can’t imagine how we would even have turned out now without those church families pouring into us and our relationship so sweetly for so long.
Because of Gods perfect sovereignty, I started going to our last home church right before I met Isaac. I started in a youth group that was heavily mission minded. God started to instill that focus in me and teach me how to stand alone in Him before Isaac was even in the picture. Looking back now that was so crucial. I see so many people putting their identities in their significant others and then crashing and burning when they realize that they alone can’t satisfy their heart. God gave me a foundation while He was making Isaac into the man He wanted him to be. We wouldn’t be here without that foundation.
Fast forward about 7 years and we can finally look back and see all of the ways the Lord guided us and taught us through our friendship and relationship so intentionally to lead us to His perfect timing. It was at our church in Virginia that God clearly showed us that regardless of what happened we could praise Him better together. It was at our church in Hatteras that He showed us that He wanted us to be different and do the hard things for His glory.
Here in Oklahoma, they have Mega Churches. Churches that have just absolutely exploded with growth. We visited one this past Sunday and it raised a lot of questions in my mind. At our church in Hatteras, our pastor was more publicly unashamed of the true and full gospel of Christ than anyone I’ve ever met. He preached truth. He said the hard things no one wanted to hear or think about. He called you out and he directed you to the raw beauty of our Savior. Entering that mega church, we knew we were going to have a hard time finding that again.
The service was good. It was on Jonah and his efforts to run from God despite his heart being so strongly convicted by Him. My mind wandered though. I caught myself nit-picking things the pastor would say or ways the congregation would react. I realized something. Has it become culturally normal for people to feel it is their duty, whether they are a part of the church or not, to judge churches? Over the years we’ve seen countless people leave our churches because the music changed, someone offended them, they didn’t feel like they were being included enough, etc. I understand it can be hard to find the right church, but do we expect the church to cater to our every need?
When Isaac and I first started our move out here, we prayed that God would not let us be comfortable. We knew this was a new place with so many new opportunities and the last thing we wanted to do was fall into a rut or mundane routine. Regardless of our lack of sleep or lack of money, we wanted to serve Him desperately.
Do we pray like that for a church though? We expect for a church to be homey and comfortable and some sort of safe place for us. Why? Have you seen our culture? Have you looked at the world that each and every one of us is surrounded by every day? We need to be called out! Somebody push us! Somebody show us how to love people like Jesus did with all the pain and discomfort and overwhelming fulfillment that comes with it.
I realized in the midst of however many hundreds of people that were in that mega church that we needed to stop waiting for a church to cross their t’s and dot their i’s and say everything we’d always wanted to hear. We are the body. We are the church. Why don’t we go out and live like it? If we pursue Christ first He will take us to a church that praises His name. Not a perfect church, but the church He desires us to learn and grow and serve with regardless how messy. We can’t be waiting for a church to cater to our needs while we ignore the needs of others around us and the call that God has already placed on our lives wherever we are.
After realizing all of this, I am so excited for our church hunt now. Knowing that its not about what the church can do for us, but what we can do for the church in furthering Christ is an exciting and humbling thing.
Bottom line – our church does not determine whether or not we are serving Christ, but it is key to the fellowship and accountability of the body of Christ. If you’re not a part of a church, why? Who offended you? Because, from a relationship aspect at least, we wouldn’t know how to love and serve each other without being surrounded by so many different hands and feet of Christ to help us learn how.
We need to know how much we need the church in us and around us. Realize how much God wants to use you, how highly he thinks of you, how many blessings He has stored up for you, how uniquely He created you for His purpose, and how many of His children He wants to surround you with to remind you of that. You, as the church, push each other. Lovingly offend each other. If you’re going to run with Christ take someone else’s hand and let them know what it feels like to run too.
Be the church.