I'm really grateful for my church.
NOT because it's perfect. Groucho Marx once said he never wanted to belong to a club that would accept him as a member. There's some of that to the church thing too; if it were close to perfect before I walked in, it would stop being so once I arrived. Repeatedly in the Word I see a call to bear with one another. I'm grateful that I'm part of a local church where people bear with me.
If you were with me as I got to church on a Sunday morning you'd see someone come up and give me a hug (and you too) as we were walking up the steps to walk into church. We'd talk with this person a bit; about what's going on in their life, your life, and my life. We might pray together or we might move on into the sanctuary. We'd most likely encounter another hug-share session before we got to where we chose to sit down. Once there, I'd look around to see if there was anyone I didn't know (we live in a mountain resort town with a posted population of 3,500 so our church is most likely only 150 people divided up between 2 services - so it's easy to spot someone that you don't know). If I saw someone, I'd go over and say hello and chat a bit.
I've lived here 5 years, and have basically always been in this church, and up until the past few months I would have told you that the service began with someone leading music/praise/worship and that it always felt like he was just worshiping God and we got to join in. That the time was sweet and I always sensed God's presence. The music style was always extremely varied; it could be rock, hymns, or choruses, but it always felt like it was about God. Recently they made some changes and I've been praying a lot about it. I've lived in large areas for most of my life and have participated in Mega churches and the just-started-worship team feels a lot more like those kinds of experiences; almost as if they're trying to cheer lead you into worshiping the King instead of just letting you join them if you chose - don't know if I can explain it. It's not about the style of music 'cuz that's always all good for me, it's something else that I can't put my finger on but that I'm praying about. Please also understand that it's not like I'm not able to sing those songs and close my eyes and talk to Jesus, or dance with joy, or be silent and whisper words of love to Him during these times. Also, I can tell that the people who are leading really love God; it just feels really "church-y" instead of simple love pouring out, and God moving. I don't speak about it to anyone but my husband John since I don't want to be someone negative in the church; I'm waiting on God. Maybe this is just about me, I don't know.
The time in the Word is consistently good. My kids make fun of me because so frequently they've heard me declare to John as we drive home - wasn't that sermon extra wonderful today, I just got so much out of it, God really spoke to my heart through His Word! Whenever I say something like that they roll their eyes and declare that I always say that! But God's Word is just so good and my heart is so needy and thirsty for Him.
I'm grateful that when I meet people locally and reach out to them, our local church gatherings are places I can comfortably invite people to. Depending on situations and how I feel God leading, I may, or may not, invite people , but at least I feel like I can because I know they will have a good experience if they come.
Our local church doesn't end there for me. It's about the email's for urgent prayer needs and going and visiting someone who has a need and praying for them, or making them food, or getting my kids to help with their yard work, or depositing money into an account for someone who's in dire need. It's about the food bank that's open to the community. It's about the various community events we sponsor like movie drive in night, and Fall festivals. It's about a few incredible women that come to my house weekly to sing praises to God, study the Word together, and invest into one another's lives. It's about receiving a phone call about a free concert going on someplace and going with a friend from church. It's about standing in the line at the local grocery store and having someone come over and give me a hug and say just wanted to say hello sister. It's about going to the post office (we all have post office boxes in this town, no mail to houses) and feeling a rush of happiness because I see a dear brother or sister in the Lord there. It's about being connected to one another and loving each other; being together in the business of life.
When I think about the local body, I that phrase comes to my mind often - going through the busines of life together. What comes to your mind when you think about your local church?