This summer, I did something that I have never done before: I visited a different church each Sunday. Living between two metropolitan areas, I had often wondered about the many churches that I pass by in my normal routine.
Choosing a church to visit has kind of felt like preparing for a first date. With today’s technology, I narrowed down the churches by going online first. Would we be a good match? What do they look like on the inside? I put names and faces together so I wasn’t walking in blind. It gave me a sense of their history and their future before we officially met.
On the day of, I fretted over what to wear. I didn’t want to be overdressed or underdressed for the occasion or the location of our meeting. I thought about conversation starters and prepared my answers. Would we hit it off? Would the first impression lead to a long-term relationship? The pressure was on.
And the result? There is a church for everyone. I don’t buy the excuse that people aren’t in church because they can’t find the right church. I visited a church where animals were welcomed. (I missed the week that the miniature donkey was present.) I visited a church where the stained glass windows and extra-high cathedral ceilings transported me to another era. At one church, the only decoration was a rough-hewn cross at the front and it was enough.
The Holy Spirit is alive and well in our churches. Together with the congregations, I rejoiced over baptisms, mourned for the death of their loved ones, and prayed for God’s glory to be revealed through their ministries. Each church was a family that genuinely cared for people inside and outside of the church.
I was filled with hope for the future. There was a dizzying array of opportunities for the next generation to know, to grow, and to sow for Jesus: Children’s Moments, overnight “lock-ins,” and weekly programs. I’m not sure when I became part of the older crowd, but I was excited to be alongside the next generation in church.
I heard God-inspired messages from many different pastors with many different personalities. I am encouraged that God can and does use each one of us to bless others. We have the freedom to be who we are in Christ.
From the very first date, Jesus Christ was my soulmate. Church is the place where I can celebrate that perfect match made in heaven. .
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,