i see you, struggling through sunday morning, wondering if what you really want is to walk through church doors.
i see you, sighing in your car, girding up the strength to get out and walk into the building.
i see you, peeking into the sanctuary, looking for a place that is out of the way, where you can hide, where you will not be seen.
i am you, actually, and have been quite a bit this spring.
i used to love church.
when i was a kid, we were there nearly every time the doors were open, and i loved it. i brought my friends from public school with me to wednesday nights and church camp.
but no congregation is perfect, and by the time i got to high school i had been emphatically disillusioned by this.
there are only two responses we can have to anything: we can run to God or we can run away from Him. i have run both ways ever since, and so church has been hard, because people are there and people are messy, so the disillusion simmers constantly underneath.
a few years ago i learned a hard truth: church is God’s plan a, and there is no plan b.
it was one of those epiphanies i refer to as grace as an anvil to the face and it has shaped my approach to church ever since.
in college, i learned another hard truth: if i saw a lack in the church, it was my responsibility to step forward. this is what led me to high school ministry, because i remembered my own experience and wanted to contribute building a different one for today’s high school students.
i have forgotten all of this recently.
i have forgotten that church does not exist for me, but it can exist through me.
i have forgotten that church is about how or even if others are ministering to me, but how i am ministering to others.
i have forgotten that church is not a space for me to hide in but a space for me to work from.
i have forgotten that church is not the goal, but a pit stop to refresh and refuel for the rest of the week.
i have forgotten that church is not where i learned to criticize but where i learn, even still, to say hallelujah.
when i remember that God calls me to actively participate in His church, i forget all my objections for going.
so let’s walk into church, even though it’s hard, and keep preaching the gospel by our words and actions and habits.
let’s find places to serve others, to speak truth, to make church a little less hard for the person next to us.
and in so doing, i think we might find it becomes a little less hard for us.