I get an amazing amount of mail and messages asking about where we go to church, what kind of church it is, what we believe, and so on. Some of you are non-religious and just curious, which makes it sweet that you take time to ask, while others, many others, have been burned by church experiences.
I understand this.
I understand that it is easy to say churches are full of hypocrites.
Some days, I know I'm the biggest one there.
Our church experience is not meant to be perfection-on-earth.
Do you hear me?
God calls the imperfect, not the perfect.
If we're perfect without Him then we have no need of Him.
God calls the church His bride and then has His prophet Hosea marry a prostitute so He can demonstrate His perfect love with an imperfect bride. But we want none of that.
No, this does not excuse unbiblical churches or abuses of power or celebrity Christians. Celebrity Christians are the antithesis of what God calls his followers to be.
I've attended the same church for over 30 years and have seen time and time again God change lives and situations I thought were impossible to change. It takes imperfection for perfection to be seen clearly.
So where do we begin?
We begin by making our church experience not about us.
Realizing it is not about us.
It is not about how we're treated, how the worship *moves* us, how people reach out to us.
Worship is a heart attitude, not a feeling.
We begin by recognizing what is important: mainly, preaching from the Bible, not from the culture.
And love. There needs to be a deep love for the things of God. Which brings me to my next thought - pray for God to give you a deep abiding love for His people. If church is cold, seems superficial, culture soaked - then those are the people who need love and your extension of God's love to them might be the only genuineness they experience. I'm amazed how we can tolerate and reach out to the lost outside the church doors but shun the lost inside the church doors.
One of the things Sean and I love most about our church is spending time at the International Campus right in the center of the city. This campus is invaluable not because refugees aren't welcome into our edge of city main campus - indeed any of the weekend services are multicultural - but because logistically, many lack transportation and having a central campus for food, clothing and furniture distribution, classes, services in many languages and a place for community events has been fabulous!
I wish I could share each story I've heard from folks I've met. One friend gave birth to her first child on bare earth in a refugee tent. Another woman lost her husband after he was accused of spying, but really he just loved the Lord and lost his life for it. Another young man, who accepted Jesus on his own, has been ridiculed and outcast by his entire community and family for his faith. He is the first convert to Christianity in his entire cultural population.
At the end of the photos is a clip from our friend Rick, who runs the International Campus, explaining what God is doing.
If you're having trouble finding a church that is meeting your needs, find a Bible teaching church where you can serve. If there's no family outreach, open your home.
When you're hurt, forgive.
When you're forgotten, make sure no one else is and reach out.
My husband's favorite thing to tell me is "Hannah, be the change that needs to be seen".
It drives me nuts sometime but no doubt he's right. :)
The International Campus from redeemer.tv on Vimeo.