(photo taken by my beautiful photographer friend Jess– this was not posed.at.all)
To me, the Church is a paradox. I think of my church that I go to, the small community where I serve and fellowship but I also think of the other churches around the entire globe, the huge community that all believe in one Savior; Jesus. To me, church means family, strangers, unity, division, authenticity, hypocrisy, politics, apathy, action, acceptance, judgement, and love. When I was eight, my family and I moved from California all the way to England to plant a church. To say that I’m connected to the church is kind of an understatement, it’s more like an emotional investment whether I like it or not. Having spent so much time in the church growing up and now is both spiritually refreshing and emotionally draining. It can be messy. It can be great. I have seen the best and the worst examples of Christianity in the church.
If you feel burned from churches, I get it. If you feel tired of church, I get it. If you don’t go to church but still have a negative image of church in your head, I completely get it. We have not been the best ambassadors for Christ. We have been selfish, we have judged with that plank stuck in our eyes, we have been greedy, we have cut people off, we have lied, and we have been harsh. I know all of this. I’m so sorry for that. We are so sorry for that.
Lately though I have been reminded of the good that I see in churches. The church, when the focus is on Jesus and when we are united together and loving each other and others, explains and demonstrates the Gospel. The church is not only a place where we learn about Jesus and where we worship Jesus, the church is meant to show Jesus. When I think of church, I don’t think of a building, I think of people. I have been surrounded for all my life by people who love me, care about me, and who would talk and listen to me, age and background doesn’t matter because the mindset is this; we are family. Jesus said this, “By this all would know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). To neglect church is to neglect the family of God that Jesus wants us to be part of. Yes the church is messed-up. It’s messed up because it’s full of broken people full of flaws. I see the flaws but I see the good as well.
I suppose I would be considered a missionary since I moved out of the country to help plant a church. I don’t feel like a missionary, considering the fact that I was eight years old and so was kind of forced to come to England. I don’t feel the call to move out of the country to preach the Gospel somewhere else (definition of a missionary right there, if you were wondering what a missionary was) but I do feel called to serve the church. In a sense we’re all called to serve at church.