Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Everywhere I've ever lived, I've had a "church home". We've moved a lot in our 10 years of marriage. Before we were married, I moved a few times and again, I had a "church home", a "church family" in each place I lived, at least that what I thought I was doing.
If you asked me I could tell you, from each city we've loved, the name of the church, denomination, programs and style of worship and even pin point why we "chose" that particular church as our "home". The MOPS program, the kids programs, the slide in the lobby, the donuts, the rock style worship, the amazing gigantic kids events, the big youth groups....the list goes on and on.
I had no idea what I was missing, until I realized just how empty my "church homes" were. Until I realized I was not in a "church family", but rather, I was a sojourner in a foreign land visiting to simply enjoy the local foods, play on the attractions and investigate the culture.
Then it all changed. My eyes opened. The veil was lifted. We stumbled into the door of our first, true, church home filled with a family of believers who were ready to receive us in all our glorious mess.
It was messy. It was small. Small enough that people noticed when you got there, if you were a little off that day, if one of the kids was gone, if you had a bandage on your elbow, if you were refusing to hold your husbands hand during service, if you were weeping during the worship or message or all of it.
People knew my name, and I knew theirs. When we moved into a new house, almost the whole church came over to help unpack, then their kids stayed and played in the new backyard while we worshipped and praised God in the new living room. People were eager to meet my parents and sister when they came to visit because we had space in life together to talk and pray about the details of life.
Here is the best part, when you experience a true church home and church family, it is just as messy as a biological one. It was full of imperfect people, loving imperfect people and getting it wrong almost as much as we got it right. Experience the little moments in life together, in great intimacy and volume, to bond us together with Jesus Christ as the centerpiece of everything.
There were no programs, no systems, no donuts (unless we brought our own), no rock concert, no gigantic budgets and no fancy bulletins, just people, Jesus and genuine LOVE. Real People, real life, real love becomes really messy and really life changing.
We miss that home and family at times. We miss dinners, late nights, coffee dates and long theology talks. We miss men's and women's studies, park dates and acoustic guitar worship with barely enough people to drown out our off key voices. They created a church home, invited us in to break bread, pray and study the scriptures together and their church family became our church family. When the time came for us to leave our church home, we wept. We mourned. We knelt before the Lord and asked why. They lifted us up in prayer, sending us out with encouragement and an open invitation to come back "home" for a visit any time.
When we obeyed God's call to start Catalyst, we knew it was going to be hard. But we also knew what we had been shown by God. We were to simply open our church home and family to people who needed one. We knew it would be messy, personal and challenging at times, but we have his strength to rest on and our Church Family to grow with. As I look at my messy hands that have toiled in this soil, I can't help but think how precious the mess is to me.
I invite you to come to my home, and be a part of my family.
Blessings and peace,