My Church Is Bigger Than My Congregation
I have realized lately that my church/community of faith is much, much different than the congregation where we have been members for the last 20 years (and off and on for almost 50 years). It has been a good thing for me to understand, and maybe it will be good for you to think about what your real community of faith looks like.
Our small group met last night, just like we have been doing for 20 years. And we all go to different congregations. Different families in our group left our original congregation for various reasons, and none of us are members where our group started. But we decided to keep our small group together. We have done a lot of life together: funerals, births, weddings, spiritual crisis, job loss, and moves. Together. That’s real church.
I realized recently that the men I consider elders in my life are not officially elders at any one church. There are about a dozen men I would trust—and have trusted—with my soul and the souls of my family. They are members in three or four different congregations. Some hold the office of elder; some do not. Some used to; others never will. But they and their wives have proven to be true shepherds to me and mine. They are church to us.
My physical family is my church. I am so glad that parents and previous generations started a legacy of faith in our family. The best spiritual experiences of my life have mostly been with my family. Not just my wife and our kids, but aunts and uncles, siblings, cousins, in-laws, and adopted family. We show up. We love lots. We pray hard. We take care of each other.
This time of year I have remembered how special it is to do life with a mate who is bought in all the way with Jesus. My wife is my greatest church community. Reading Scripture together. Praying. Serving. Counseling. Evangelism. Trying to discern what God wants for the next years of our life.
Just in the past week we have done life with a family grieving their first holidays after their 23-year-old son died. We spent time with a college student trying to make sense of his Christian parents going through divorce. We prayed over a man battling lung cancer. We listened as another tried to decide if he should put his wife in an Alzheimer’s facility. We delivered cinnamon rolls to our neighbors in the name of Jesus.
Jesus, life, and a community of faith. Mine is so much more than any one place or any one group of people. I need to remember that. Congregations may come and go, but faith communities stay.
I hope you have an incredible group to do life with. It may be bigger than you know.