After being a pastor’s wife for many years, I guess I’ve become sensitive to what people have to say about their church experience. Over the years I’ve heard many complain about the lack of programs, leadership, commitment or involvement of others (in various churches – all over).
I’ve watched people leave a church (forever) because it was always too cold, they didn’t like the music, didn’t agree with the changes, thought the preacher was always preaching about money, or because they disliked some of the people in it.
Their time of worship became a time of turmoil – filled with mostly negative thoughts. Been there?
I understand that sometimes there ARE good reasons to move on, but sometimes I think we lose sight of WHY we are even going. Because of that, I want to share what happened one afternoon in Costa Rica. It was an experience that made me realize the key to loving church – where ever it may be for you. Hopefully this experience will help someone else who is struggling with this issue today.
It was raining, so we got all the adults and kids on the bus and finished VBS! It wasn’t convenient, and it was sweaty HOT, but we managed to complete what we felt God wanted us to do. Needless to say, the next day when it rained, we were THRILLED when we learned that our interpreter somehow obtained a key to a church down the road.
After seeing other church buildings in CR that were similar to what you would see here in the USA, I was a little shocked as I realized that the small building that we were approaching was indeed the church.
It didn’t have stained glass windows, pictures, paintings, an altar, a piano, a baptismal, coffee station, a kitchen, meet and greet area, a bookstore, classrooms, a nursery, a restroom OR electricity. (I’m not knocking those things – just trying to make a point.)
I did discover several things inside that were more important. The pews were FILLED with hearts of appreciation, and there were people who had a desire to learn about God. The building was filled with people who were excited about teaching others about the love of Christ and Salvation. The room was filled with joy as we attempted to sing a song, then laughed at each other’s attempted actions to the song.
No, nothing was perfect about it, but the (right) attitudes made it a joy to be there.
If you are struggling with church, please take some time and refocus….and don’t forget to check YOUR heart and YOUR intentions, rather than focusing on everyone else’s. Remember to hold on to and appreciate His unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness – those things that are of eternal value. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~ Proverbs 4:23