I am a fan of church.
I self-identify as a Christian, and traditionally, most Christians go to church. That's a huge marker for Christians; we do church.
On a personal level, I believe it matters. My experience with church - at least my most recent experience - is that it provides a ripe environment for authentic community. Seems to me that most everybody is interested in spiritual things, and the church I attend allows for healthy tribes of people interested in exploring those things. Fundamentally, our church passionately follows the teachings of Jesus - but there's room for questions and struggles and the messiness that comes with being human.
I follow Jesus, and I go to church. I think it's a good thing. I think it's good for kids to be in church; I think it's good for people to connect in community in a church.
But it gets dicey, because I also work for a church. The people who go to church, give to church; and part of that cold, hard cash puts the food on my table every week. Sometimes, when I talk (or write) about PCC, I consider whether or not it seems like something close to self-promotion - whether or not there's a conflict of interest. After all, if I can talk you into going to my church - and giving to my church - does that mean there is profit in it for me?
This concerns me.
It's SO not the point, but it's understandable that anytime I get on my go-to-church soapbox, it could be perceived as a) Join my club! It's the best club ever! Do what I do and validate what I believe! or b) Come to my church! Give money! Help us get BIGGER! Help me pay for my new kitchen! The cynics among us could have a field day with my motivation as I sing the praises of Powhatan Community Church.
But here's the thing: I work for PCC. It's my job. And just like your job, I have specific responsibilities; they include organization of music, caring for people, planning, programming, editing messages, strategic planning and thinking creatively. And other stuff. I have a job description. I do my job. But never have I been asked to "promote" PCC as part of my job.
I just do.
I just happen to be passionate about the mission of my church, and about the opportunity it offers for truly engaging in life as a follower of Jesus. I am fortunate, in that I love and respect everything about the institution that provides my gainful employment. I would feel this way even if I didn't work there.
I don't encourage people to go to church because it benefits me, or makes our church bigger.
I encourage people to go because I know this to be true: Lives change.
People are transformed.
Hope is renewed
Help is received.
I believe that's why the earliest Christ-followers clung together after Jesus' death and resurrection. I believe that's why we are still drawn to be with other people in community today. We're hard-wired to need one another; we make one another better. It really works.
And it makes a difference.
The point of all this was to offer you some proof, to shed a little light.
Angie wrote about a church connection that impacted my family in a major way. She works for the church, too. Her perspective is unique. Read her story here. It made me cry. If you know Sarah and Shannon, you might cry, too.
Matthew wrote about his journey, one that has also intersected with my family. I had a front-row seat for this one, and it's an amazing tale. Read his words here.
Karen has seen her share of joy and sorrow in the past several years. The church became a touch point for her, a tether as she shouted her questions to the sky. She got answers. She's asking more questions. It's a beautiful thing. Read her most recent musing here.
There's a little proof, a little light. Somebody figured this out ahead of time; the local church, when it's working as it should, is the hope of the world.
I'm glad to be part of bringing that hope. Are you?