I was thinking about writing a few different blogs, but then realized that all four of the things that I have been learning are about the Church. So I combined them into this list.
4 things I’m learning about Church:
1. That we are the church. If we don’t like something- be the change
Around two years ago, I realized that I had come up with a list of things that I didn’t like about different churches. At one church, I didn’t like that people seemed set on dressing up to impress a future wife/husband. At another church, I didn’t like that people didn’t really feel free to worship how they’d like to. At yet another church, I didn’t like that the relationships seemed superficial and fake.
But then I read a book that challenged me simply by stating that WE are the Church. It’s the people. And I am a person. So- if I am making up the church, I have the ability to make those changes. I decided that if I didn’t agree with the pressure to dress to impress a guy at church, then I would make sure I acted differently by wearing what I wanted to wear for myself and God- even if that included sweat pants. If I wished that everyone could worship how they desired, I started to worship freely even if I felt a little judged. If I felt like people were being a little fake in conversation, I started to be almost-awkwardly ‘real.’ If someone said “how are you,” I would feel free to say: I am struggling a lot with pride.'
I learned that I can start the change that I wish to see. I am part of the church. I am not simply a consumer of something pre-packaged.
2. That the Church is God’s Bride. That He loves and cares for her.
I have not always been so fond of the Church. I was the 10-sheets-of-paper doodler on Sunday mornings. I used to strategize when to go to the bathroom so that I could miss the most of the service (answer: Song right before the message so I could be miss the message until there was an appropriate time to go to my seat). From there, I did a 180… I became church obsessed. It became the highlight of my week. And right now, I’m somewhere in the middle.
But going to church is not just about our satisfaction, it is about worshipping God…ANNNNND loving His people.
If we are really seeking to follow God, I think we are to seek to love the Church. God calls the Church His Bride. That is how much God loves His people. If we look to follow God's example, we start to see Church as an opportunity to love His bride/His Chuch/ your fellow church-mates. What if we went to Church with the intention of loving other people like God loves them? Also with this, we can realize how dearly we are loved by God- BRIDE! Pretty huge deal if you ask me.
3. No person is perfect, even when they are in leadership
I wish that, as a society, we saw all people as people. Yesterday, my friend and I sat down at a restaurant bar top next to someone who looked fairly important. I don’t get very star-struck (there would be an exception if I met Jimmy Fallon), but I was amazed/disappointed in myself because of the difference he made on our dinner time. He wasn’t just a person. He was more,somehow.
In a society where US Magazine can profit from releasing a new mag every week, it should not surprise us that we are star-struck…but not just by movie stars. Often, many church leaders are idolized. Church-goers cannot fathom how their teachers could do wrong. I’ve met men who have cheated on their wives because their religious leader endorsed it. I’ve met women who have questioned whether to go into a cult because their mentor did. This has to stop. We have to see religious pastors, mentors, leaders for what they are: people. People make mistakes. They can be INCREDIBLY helpful in our walk…but I never want to be so molded by one person that I follow her/him completely. I already have a person that does that and His name is Jesus. (Matthew 23:8-11)
4. The Church needs different roles and different personalities
So often, I see people in Christian community begin to mold into each other. They all start liking rustic décor, saying certain phrases, and meeting over coffee (maybe just for girls). All of those things are beautiful, and some people really do rejoice with those things…but not everyone enjoys a good mason jar or chai latte. Some people would rather meet over some refreshing lemonade, or (gasp) a red cup of cheap beer. People are different, and if you are sticking out like a sore thumb in your church group, maybe that’s good. The church is made up of variety and that’s one of the most beautiful things to me.
No one has shown me this more than my boyfriend. He listens to MGK (rapper in case you’re like me and have never heard of him) and he would probably do just about anything before he preached on a street corner. Many times, he doesn’t fit the ‘Christian guy’ stereotype, but what a great thing! Because of this, he has shared insights that I just don’t have/ would never think of. What I am realizing is how rare it is to find this amidst the conformity of many Christian communities. It’s made me realize that I probably haven’t always been good about being myself in Church. Instead, I think there are times when I unconsciously fit myself into what the Church already has a lot of (so I could fit in). He has created us all differently, and together, we show more of God because He has made us all in His image. We belong to Church just by belonging to Jesus. Lets show our true colors and make Church show just how creative God was in creating the variance of us!
Church is beautiful. Hopefully reading this encourages you to be the part of the church that God wants you to be. He has a full picture of the church and we can continue to learn more about it. You have unique insights and I’d love to hear them! Janie.firstname.lastname@example.org