It’s no secret to most of my friends from church that my faith doesn’t quite fit in. Many of them read this blog, and most of them talk to me about it, and for that I am so grateful. Some of them have asked me if I think I’ll stay in the church, or more specifically, if I’ll stay at our church, as I seem to have some unconventional beliefs.
The short answer is yes, I’m going to stay. That wasn’t always the case, but for now it is.
The number one reason why I stay in the Church and at my specific local church is the community. I think it’s the number one reason anyone looks for or joins a church, whether Christian or not. Even if I don’t fit perfectly into the mold of everyone else, there is a community of love and a culture of welcome that I do not want to leave. Our pastor is fond of saying that the ties that bind us together aren’t the same as the ties that bind in the rest of the world: we should be different, and we are.
I bring my little misfit heart to worship every week because I know if I don’t, someone will call or text or email and ask me where I was. For a while, I thought that was a bad reason to come. Perhaps it is, but it is also a glowing recommendation for our little tribe: we don’t let each other walk away.
**I will give a caveat here and say that of course my church isn’t perfect, and I’m sure there are people who have attended who have had more difficulty becoming invested in the community. For me and my experience, however, it would take a lot of intentionally breaking ties and hurting dear friends to walk away.**
I bring my misfit heart to worship because my tribe there? They sing to me and for me and about me. They pray for me, they hug me and they laugh with me and they feed me (literally). They remember important events and ask me about them. They surprise me every day with the level of love they are willing to lay on the line for me.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the love of God in sermons and theology and even in scripture. But I have rarely had a week where I couldn’t find the love of God in the love the body of Christ has for me in my local church. And that’s worth coming back for.
If it’s been a while since you’ve set foot in a church and there are wounds and fear waiting for you through those doors, please know that you are not alone in that. But I would invite you to grab a friend and look for the love of God in a community of people somewhere, whether it’s church or somewhere else. We were made to be in community with each other and it’s something that takes work, but it makes life worth living.
Photo by Susanne Nilson, via Flickr.