I write about Church a fair amount. It’s a touchy topic, one laden with emotion for many people. Church can be complicated and messy, and it can bring up bad memories or reopen wounds we thought had healed.
But I keep writing about Church because I keep seeing the good side of it, and in all the Church bashing that takes place, I sometimes think Church could use some cheerleaders. I haven’t always been in a place to be that person, and I know that I won’t always be. For now though, I able to champion Church, to remind us of the good of Church in spite of the bad.
For much of my childhood and teenage years, going to church was something my family simply did. There were times when I enjoyed it well enough, though I don’t remember actively looking forward to going to church very often. The first two years of college, I bounced around churches a bit until deciding to stick with one for a few months. Finally, as I drove away in tears yet again because no one seemed to have the time to say hello to the college girl attending by herself, I figured God didn’t want that for me either.
Then, through a situation I can only describe as a “God thing,” I found out about a new church. I showed up once, and have kept showing up ever since. Almost every week I drive away from my church wishing I could hug it, feeling incredibly grateful that God has blessed me with this community for this season of life. It is nothing but a gift to be able to show up to the same place each week, to look forward to hearing sermons, singing songs, greeting friends and making making new ones, to seeing all the ways that God is using the church and the people in it to bring little pieces of his kingdom here. It is not we that are doing good things though, it is He. Anything good that comes from our church is simply an expression of God’s grace, and we are merely players in it.
I can’t tell you what the future holds for me, my church, or my involvement there, but right now, I don’t think I’ve ever been more certain that God has me somewhere for a reason.
I also fully realize good church experiences are not the case for everyone. I don’t want to deny or excuse the dark side of Church—the abuse, the exclusion, the hypocrisy, the judgment, the hurt—but I also don’t want to ignore the good side of Church because of those things.
So I will keep writing about Church, because maybe it can breathe hope to someone who has never felt this way about Church, thinks they will never feel this way about Church, doesn’t even believe it’s possible to feel this way about Church. I wish everyone could walk or drive or skip away from church wanting to hug it, because I think that’s how Church in its perfected state is supposed to be. It won’t always be that way, because sometimes Church is just really hard.
But it can be so, so good too.
Til next time…
p.s. What are some of your good church experiences?