About 16 months ago, I decided I wanted to go to church. At the time, I had no clue what prompted the idea. But, I followed my heart and stepped inside the doors of Junction City Church of the Nazarene (JCNaz) one Sunday morning--even though I was scared to death. I remember thinking how I had to pretend to have my life together because no one else in the congregation seemed even remotely broken like me. I was exhausted from trying to put on a happy face and "play" church However, I loved the people, the music, and the sermon, so I went back again the following Sunday.
My fears of being in church quickly dissipated as week after week Pastor Jim shared the message that God and members of the church accept us right where we are. Something in my heart started to change as I realized maybe there was hope for me. I might belong in church after all!
Eventually a sermon by our youth pastor and conversations with a dear friend prompted me to confess my sins and ask Jesus to come into my heart. God brought amazing mentors to disciple and help me grow in my walk with the Lord. Never once did I feel like I wasn't good enough for church. It wasn't just Pastor Jim telling us that the church accepts us; it was church members actually putting those words into practice.
I wonder how many people today are in the same spot where I was not that long ago. Do they think they can't accept Christ as their savior until they get their life straightened out? Are they afraid if they come to church then they won't be as "good" as others in the church? If so, it's up to us as Christians to change that stigma and bring in those people who need the congregation to love on them. I've hear a couple wise people say that church is a hospital for the sick. How can we help people get over their fear? The solution is simple--don't be afraid to be vulnerable and let people see your imperfections. Admit your flaws. Share your testimony and open up to people. God used people to share their imperfections with me and also stories about how God helped them through the struggles in their life. I never would have asked questions or grown nearly as much if I wouldn't have connected with people who let me know it's OK to be me. I don't have to be perfect. A couple dear friends told me that God will use the hurts in my life to help disciple others who have pains that are similar to the ones I experienced. I can't wait for God to bring these people into my life!!
This week I found the perfect expression to drive home my point:
I challenge all of you to find a broken soul, let her (or him) see your imperfections, and invite her to church. If she sees that God loves you in spite of your shortcomings, she will hopefully feel comfortable enough NOT to have to "play" church. God bless you as you witness to others!