The stories most often shared about churches are negative ones.. So here’s my story:
August of 2020 will mark 10 years I have been a part of my church. At first it was difficult adjusting because at 22 there were not many people my age in the church, however I quickly made friends with some of the adults and teens after joining the music ministry. Within a month or so it felt like family. I was in the choir and attending multiple Bible studies in addition to services each Sunday. Everyone I spoke with was so ready to dig in and engage in matters of the faith, and when people asked “How are you?” they actually stuck around to listen to the answer. Within a couple of years I realized I was called to work with children so I started teaching Sunday school and volunteering for the youth ministry. I was rooted in quickly. I came in with the mindset to serve and be fed spiritually, and that’s exactly what happened.
I know this is the part of the story where you are expecting some kind of dramatic plot point, but I am sorry to disappoint you. I have spent the last 10 years growing closer with these Christians who have become my family.
I’ve mediated arguments between brothers in the faith that were resolved through hard work & tolerance. I’ve had some of those disagreements myself. I’ve worshiped side by side with people of different backgrounds and political beliefs, knowing that in heaven we will all be doing that exact same thing. I’ve witnessed mistakes, accountability, forgiveness and encouragement. I’ve witnessed bad attitudes and gossip but those experiences are SO few and far between I could probably count them on one hand.
They welcomed my husband (at that time just my friend) though he was a self-proclaimed atheist who had never been to church before, and they were eager to spend time with him and answer any questions he had. The music and women’s ministries helped fund a program for me to train as a music missionary. The music ministry & youth leaders so generously provided all the music for my wedding. Many of them stayed after and helped clean up without being asked. My church family came to my rescue when my grandmother needed to move in a short time-frame, lugging boxes through the cold night and over their Thanksgiving break.
I’ve received random text messages and other encouragement out of the blue about something I had shared months before.. they remembered and they cared! I’ve witnessed the welcoming of the ‘other,’ the person who doesn’t quite fit in.. the sincere desire to get to know them and plug them into community.
I know there are people who have sincerely had negative, hurtful experiences with church in general.. Ones of abuse, rejection, hatred, and hear me when I say I am sorry someone used their position as a Christ follower to hurt you. NONE of that is acceptable. Please know that is not the way it’s supposed to be, and for every hurtful person there are also kind, loving people who care about the contents of your heart exponentially more than your appearance or lifestyle. I’ve seen their consistency for myself.
In Christ’s Love,