I haven’t always been a “Sunday morning Christian”. I grew up with praying parents, praying grandparents, and was frequently pointed towards God. However, growing up I was never more than a visitor to any given church. I didn’t “belong” and wasn’t part of the “club”. I didn’t understand the lingo. I didn’t think it was essential and didn’t even fully understand the concept of “church family”. I had never had one. It seemed a little strange, a little uncomfortable, and totally foreign. If that’s you, it’s OK. I felt that way once.
Over the last 5 years my heart on the subject has changed and it has so profoundly shifted my life that I just can’t leave these things unsaid. I found my church family and a group of people I love so fiercely it is surprising. I get it now. So, here is my “love letter” to my church family and all the things I should say more often. Feel free to share with yours.
To my Church Family,
Thank you for letting me in, accepting me, and making me feel just as at home in our sanctuary as I am on my living room couch. Thank you for never expecting me to be perfect, knowing exactly how much of a “hot mess” I am, and loving me anyway. When my daughter is running around like a heathen after service with her “tribe” of little girls, thank you for sneaking candy into their little hands instead of shushing them. And when my teenage boys are nodding off in the back, thank you for not judging them but sometimes gently nudging them. With your help I believe we are all raising the next generation of the Lord’s Army.
Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to celebrate each other’s victories and mourn each other’s losses. My heart and prayers are always with you. I pray when you travel. I grieve when you are diagnosed. I rejoice when you receive victory! How amazing and humbling it is to be in and amongst the family of God.
Thank you for a thousand prayers, whether gathered around our altar, in the lobby, or by phone, text, and messenger. Thank you for always reaching out. Thank you for the strength it gives me to know I have an army of prayer warriors to call up in a time of need. Gosh, that feels good.
Thank you for not noticing or not caring when I get carried away in worship and sing out loud- it’s not pretty. Bless you. Thanks for tons of cookouts, pulled pork sandwiches, school supply give-a-ways, bouncy house weekends, and long conversations while our children wore themselves out. I look forward to hundreds more. And I hope there’s a special place in Heaven for those who help with cold, windswept, and rainy Easter Egg hunts. You deserve it.
Thank you for teaching my kids the ways of Jesus- both in the children’s ministry and the way you live your life in front of them. Thank you for loving them and being part of the village who raises them.
Thank you for welcoming the lost. For loving on those considered “other” in our society, those that have felt like they never fit in at church before. I am never afraid or ashamed to invite ANYONE in because I know they will be welcomed by you. Thank you for always setting another place at the table for new people and families to join our family.
Thank you for shaking my hand at the door, taking up the offering, making the coffee, cleaning the bathrooms, carrying the chairs, playing the music, organizing dinners and outreach, directing the parking, and the one thousand and one other tasks that all of us enjoy. You are the hands and feet of Jesus.
Never doubt that while none of us is perfect, as long as we keep showing up for each other and growing together in God, with His help, we are unstoppable.
Thank you to all the other church families who are living this out all over the world. I thank each of you too.
You are all a sweet bonus gift of salvation - unexpected but dearly loved.
If you are reading this and don’t have a church family, please know that I believe that God has one for you. Seek and you will find.