Our church is not the most fashionable collective group. We are far from the richest church in town. Most of our congregants have had a tough go in life–emotionally, physically, and financially. Our church is not the most beautiful church in town. On the outside anyway.
Note: I meant fashion as the world sees it. We have some very smartly dressed people in our church. Not me, I’m afraid, but I’m working on it!
Usually at church, I can be found in one of two places:
- the front pew where I can’t see anybody behind me (I like this best)
- or the sound booth where I can see everybody (way too distracting–put up your cell phones people. We are in church!)
But perched up there in the back, I am able to witness acts of love, worship, and kindness that I miss when I’m on the front pew.
We have recently had a new family join–a grandmother and her three grandchildren. There is such a hunger there! I was so touched to see her and her three grandkids pray together at the altar. I had an opportunity to speak with her last week and this is what I learned:
- The three grandkids (13, 12, and 4) belong to her daughter.
- Her grand-daughter’s dad committed suicide a few years ago. The granddaughter is now 12. It’s tough enough growing up without having to deal with any undue emotional trauma. She’s having a tough time.
- Her daughter’s current husband is in jail.
- Her daughter is having to work two jobs and raise three kids on her own.
- The grandmother suffered a major back injury ten years ago, lost her job, and went into a severe depression.
- She is on the upside of the depression and getting back in church and bringing her grandkids with her.
This family wouldn’t even be at our church if someone didn’t pick them up. Are you using the vehicle you’ve been blessed with to bless other people?
Last service, I watched as one of our other members got up from her seat to go comfort this woman during service. She’s all alone, except for her grandkids. She’s been coming to our church for two weeks. She’s overwhelmed, crying. (We do that at our church.) It’s our privilege to comfort her. Didn’t she come to church for help? For a shoulder to cry on and an altar to pray at? Be that shoulder. Be that prayer partner! And if you are the pastor or pastor’s wife at your church, then you need to openly encourage this. Allow God’s healing and comfort to take place during service. It is His house, after all.
I myself have been the recipient of that congregational love. My mom lives away and goes to a different church. I have no family at my church, except my own. My own grandmother would pray with me, except she is in a nursing home with Alzheimers. Sometimes I need an elder in the church to hug me, to sit down with me and pray over me, letting me cry on her. I need that! A lot!
If you come to our church expecting three songs, an offering, and a 15 minute sermon, you have come to the wrong place. Most of us struggle through the week, almost buckling under the weight of our burdens. It’s all we can do to hold out until Sunday or Wednesday service. Not that we don’t pray in our home, but there is nothing like cloaking yourself in the prayers that are falling in the ladies’ prayer room (or the men’s if you’re a man) or out in the congregation. We start our service with worship and prayer, and we end our service with worship and prayer. Somewhere in there we get some good old fashioned preaching and some not-so-old-fashioned music mixed in with the hymnal greats. Our children pray for people and march around the church AT THEIR OWN WILL! They have learned that is okay to worship God, to pray for others, and to not be ashamed of God and what His word teaches.
Our church is a hospital. We leave restored, renewed, reaffirmed in our faith. It may get dirty sometimes. It may be ugly sometimes. It may be loud sometimes. You know those times when you just want to cry out to God, when you just want to cry period? We do that here. Dealing with sin, rejection, life trials, family problems, and addictions can be ugly. But the restoration is oh so beautiful!
I challenge you to put on your spiritual scrubs and get to work in your congregation. Somebody in there needs you! And you need somebody, too.
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hid His face from him; but when he cried out to Him, He heard. – Psalms 22:24