Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What is New Life?

Doug and I visited a new church over the weekend. It was amazing! The kids programs were incredible...each room was more outstanding than the last. Each person that greeted us was friendly, knew their job and they seemed so organized. Once we had settled all of the little ones, we stepped into an auditorium that was nothing less than a dream come true for a wanna be Christian music artist and worship planner. Huge stage, three screens with motion back grounds, lights, cameras, big sound and very talented musicians. It was truly overwhelming!

It was so hard not to sit there and envy what was around me. And I must confess I found myself thinking about what it would be like to be a part of this amazing production. And it wasn't too hard to take the next leap and wonder what was keeping us at our present church. At that moment in time, I confess, it did not feel as if there was much to tie us down to New Life.

I have been asking myself "why do I feel like we need to be so loyal to NL?" There is much there that I would really like to just walk away from right now. Much work, much frustration, much stuff. Why couldn't we just stop here and go there? People do it...why couldn't we? What is keeping us here? What is tying us down? Couldn't I find a place at this new church to be active and use my gifts?

I believe God designed the church to be more than a worship experience, more than a place to use your gifts, more than a Sunday morning service, more than 'the fields are ripe for harvest.' I believe God designed the church to be a family. And if you are blessed, you will find more than friends at will find family.

Now, it is bear with me if I get weepy or ramble. Today I was playing bean bags in my backyard at our 4th of July party and I had my loyalty question answered in one picture. I looked up at our patio and saw our 'family' eating together, drinking together, laughing together and my answer was given. I am loyal to NL because that is where God has blessed Doug and I with friends who are our family.

We have been married for 12 years and have always talked about wanting to make friends...the kind of friends that you can be yourself around, laugh till your sides hurt, call up on a Friday evening and ask over for pizza. Friends that do not require walls or masks; the kind of friends that just fit and are comfortable and are safe and the kind of friends that care about your kids and your family as much as you care about theirs.

We have those kinds of friends because we go to NL. We have a family at NL that is worth more than any big sound and light board, fancy cameras or talented musicians. We have this family that is worth the fight...worth the frustrations...worth the time it takes to make things right. Because even if we walked away from NL and all the stuff that is going on and went to this new church and replaced NL stuff with new stuff we are unaware of...we could never replace our family.

And so by God's design, I believe, we will stick it out...because we have a full life that is full of friends. And really, who could ask for more?


Carol said...

I'm so blessed to have you as my sister through our brother, Jesus Christ! And thanks for the FUN FOURTH! We had a great time!
love ya!

biermadoc said...

I had the same thoughts last night. So I guess that answers all our questions.

JD said...

Interesting... We had the same struggle a year ago. I was on consistory, we were very, very active, our church was the family that we didn't have geographically. We were very loyal through a lot of crap. We attended Parkview on a Saturday evening just to see what it was about and our struggle got worse. We realized that even with the family/community issues, we weren't worshipping at our church. We began to go to PV on Saturday nights and our church on Sunday mornings. Ultimately, though, we gradually stopped going to our church on Sunday mornings (a personal issue kind of pushed that along faster than we figured it would).
Anyway, our struggle was also with "what about our friends, what about our family?" Last night we were at a bbq with that part of our family - like you, I looked around and was thankful for our old church bringing us together. They all still go to that church and we don't feel left out at all. We are family because we are family - not because of the church we go to. I was really worried that without that connection we would no longer be friends, but it has proven to be otherwise. They respect our decision to leave, and we respect their decision to stay.

We have not gotten very involved over at PV by choice. We were pretty hurt, but I think we will eventually get more involved. I think there is family to be found there, too - just in different ways. I agree that there will never be a time where I look around in the service and know every single person sitting there and the stories that go along with them, but I don't need that right now - right now I need to be a face in the crowd and learn how to worship again.

Boy oh boy, you've gotten me started - obviously this is a very personal issue for me:) Which service did you attend? And I have to tell you that while Hayden Shaw is a good preacher, you really missed out by not seeing Tim Harlow preach. He is fantastic - I think he's gone for July, but you should visit again sometime when he is preaching.

I have more thoughts on this, but will leave your blog alone for now;) Thanks for the great post! I feel like I could have written this a year ago.

Jen said...

We went thru the whole "should we stay or should we go?" song and dance about 2 years ago. We really stuggled with the question of is it ever a God-honoring decision to leave a church? (Aside from obvious heresy, ect) We ended up staying for a number of reasons, the biggest being we are committed to the mission of our church.

On the other point about family, that is where we are struggling a bit now. We have friends who are very nice people but they are not the kind you describe. It's a very surface thing~not in a negative way, we just haven't "connected" with a group. That's hard. A lot of it is the area where we are everyone has been in their groups since birth and we are the outsiders. We have tried and are at a point where we are kinda discouraged.

So thanks for adopting us! We had fun. . .i think. . .i remember explosions and sangria and wet pants?

One last thought, I think PV is where Tom and Mary Ann go.

one hot momma said...

We our church of 12 years almost 5 years ago now because we hadn't ever made the "family" connections we were looking for. We "shopped" a few churches and came to New Life one Sunday and never left! Shortly after that a "new lifer" that I didn't know very well called and asked me to attend a Beth Moore study with her, I asked one friend I had made at NL and the rest is girlfriend Wednesday history! I love this family and all the junk that comes with it. Christine, I know that these struggles will ultimately strengthen our church. A wise man once told me that there is no growth on the mountain top, only cold and snow. Look to the valleys, you see lush growth and beauty! You are beautiful my friend, and I'm so proud to call you sister too!