Sunday, July 06, 2008

Church

Church is an interesting word. From what I've seen, the meaning has come to be interpreted as a building where people usually spend too much of their time in programs.

There are the pretty churches (i.e. cathedrals) hundreds of years old. There are the churches with pews, hymnals, and a huge pipe organ. And there are the "modern" churches that look more like a movie theater than anything else. Some have crosses and some don't. Some have pools for baptisms, and others just rent hot tubs every few months. Many "modern" churches have stadiums and LCD projectors and cutting-edge sound systems and lights in order to "enhance" worship.

Funny that they think they need to be cool like everyone else to get people to walk through the doors. I guess that means Jesus was wearing the hip clothes so the Pharisees would think He was cool too.

I've had the honor of participating in many different kinds of "churches." Throughout high school, I was a part of a large church with an amazing youth program that talked a lot about the right and wrong things to do and how God is good and loves me no matter what. Then, I spent a couple of years in a "charismatic" church that emphasized radicalism and the "Gifts of the Holy Spirit." In Egypt, I attended an international church a couple of times that housed very spiritually hungry people with little depth to the teaching, but the diversity in language, culture, ethnicity, and nationality was awe inspiring.

And then, in January, Jonathan and I found Cumberland Community Church. The first week we went, they asked for someone to come up who was feeling discouraged in the new year. A woman volunteered, and then the church spent time shouting out encouragements and blessings to her. Wow. But, they also did the "Bible wave." When the pastor told everyone to open their Bibles, they started doing the wave--like you see at baseball games. When a few of us refused to participate, he told us we were "too cool for school".

We left with a desire to try CCC out again. At first, we didn't know what to think: the pastor wore jeans, we took communion every week without any liturgy, the pastor of small groups actually wanted to meet with us one-on-one and hear our ideas, there wasn't a consistent order of worship, and it definitely lasted longer than an hour. People recognized us as new and spent time getting to know us at the newcomers lunch. We immediately were invited to join a transitional community group (which was a big deal for us since we had been told we were "outta luck for the next 3 months" from one of the high-profile Atlanta churches when we requested to join a small group).

We quickly fell in love with the honesty of the people we saw on Sundays, and the passion in the heart of the leadership. And before we knew it, we became a part of the Holy Spirit's movement among His people every Sunday morning in this place. And suddenly we had friends who we started a community group with that weekly cries out for a different one of God's beloved nations. And soon after, we were even bringing friends with us on Sunday mornings! What a joy it is to actually want to bring people to the church you're attending!!!!!

What I'm experiencing at CCC is incredible and wildly expanding my view of the church. Before, I knew that the church wasn't a building, but I wasn't living it. And now, I'm tasting the church in the life I'm living alongside others. We're all different, and yet we come together to enjoy God, grow in our marriages, play games, eat, and countless other things. This is the beauty of His bride. She is glorious and full of life when she is one!!!!

1 comment:

Stacee said...

Wow! You've been busy bee! You'll have to show me how to make pockets!!