I’ve been struggling with this concept in my personal life lately. My husband and I recently moved to a new town with new churches and an entire new community. We have not yet settled on a place to attend. We are church-homeless.
Not that we expect the church we decide to call home to be perfect. We aren’t that naive. Instead, we search for the particular features that make us feel at home. Style of preaching. Good music. Professional sound team. Enough people our age.
But when I read Jen’s heartfelt exhortation to us this morning, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m searching for things that make me feel outwardly comfortable and proud to attend a certain place. I never thought about choosing the right kind of people.
They love each other, they love the staff, they love the city, and they love God.
That’s who I should be searching for. After all, the church is only a group of people. People aren’t attractive fliers, preachers, music, or donuts. And I want to make my church home a place where those people love Jesus more than anything else.
We are still on our search. (Please pray for us!)
I, like all of you, am going to an imperfect church this morning. I have failed it in innumerable ways, and I’ve felt the sting of disappointment there too. Church is hard.
But every single Sunday, every one, I find Jesus there. I am renewed in tiny or even enormous ways. But largely, when I look around the room, I see the faces of people that are so good, so courageous, so committed and loving, I cannot imagine doing life without them. They are, quite simply, the best people I know. The struggles and addictions and losses they have overcome would flatten you – it’s just a little middle school cafeteria but it is full of bravery. And they love well. They love each other, they love the staff, they love the city, and they love God.
Folks, my prayer for you this morning is that you find your simple church where Jesus is lifted high and people are loved, and plant there with all your might. Your church will be so imperfect. SO. The staff and leaders will not magically make life fulfilling. People will let you down (and you them). Stuff will go sideways and have to be righted. There will be hard conversations and honest confessions and apologies and lots of forgiveness, but the presence of these things doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. It means you are building a church with human people and you love them too much to let it all slip through your fingers without fighting for unity.
May you find grace for your church today. May you find your people and put up a parking lot. And I hope that today, or maybe someday, you’ll look around the room like I do and marvel at what beautiful, wonderful people you are surrounded with, grateful that you get to love God and love each other and love people together, imperfectly.
-Jen Hatmaker, originally posted on Facebook