Love Them Where They Are
I need to write something about how much I appreciate the church that Stephanie and I found when we moved down here. I haven’t talked at all about it, and it’s one of the highlights of my week. Which, believe me, was never something I got that excited about. Don’t get me wrong, I think church is a great thing, but I also thing that it can be really confusing, boring, and not organic enough for people to really get into. All the churches I went to growing up seemed like they were so full of ceremony, and not really full of people who actually wanted to be there. The preachers I always had seemed to be the kind of people who never did anything wrong and expected so much out of you that you could never reach the potential they saw for you. In my mind, God is allowed to make those judgements about me, but ALL people are flawed, including preachers. Which I think is why I like this church so much.
Stephanie and I knew we needed to get involved in something when we moved down here or we wouldn’t meet people very fast. She and I are both introverts and unless we’re shoved into something, we just don’t do it. We decided to try out Hope Community Church in an effort to find a place that we wanted to go to on Sundays. We both had similar upbringings with church, in that we never really go passionate about it. We both always believed in God, Jesus, and everything the Bible has to say, BUT we found that we weren’t really growing, and that the messages being taught were not at all relevant to where we were. We found a church up in Morgantown when we lived there that truly met some needs we didn’t know we even needed help with. It featured great worship services with contemporary music (that means no old school, impossible to sing hymns), a really fun group of leaders, and a pastor who was humble and open about his own flaws. We loved it there! We never got involved because it was so far from home, which is a crappy excuse but that’s the way it was. Moving to Cary was a new opportunity to find a church home that we could really grow with.
Hope ended up being everything we wanted and more. They are a HUGE church in the triangle, so they have three different campuses that you can attend. We tried out their main campus in Raleigh first, and we liked it but it just seemed a little too big. We ended up finding out about a campus they had closer to us in West Cary. The service is actually held in a middle school auditorium, and they play back a recorded service from Saturday night on some screens. At first we thought this would be really weird, but it wasn’t. We ended up getting just as much out of it as we would if we were at the main campus. They had their own live band and they had a campus pastor on site that you could talk to. We ended up talking to him on our first visit and he was SO awesome! He was just a normal guy who just happens to be a pastor. He was so down to earth, friendly, and welcoming to both of us. We walked out of that service and knew we had found a church home.
Fast forward a couple months and both of us are trying to get involved with some type of ministry at this campus. Steph has actually been hanging with a few of the ladies there on occasion and helping out with things here and there. She loves it so much, and they all seem so nice. I’m trying to get involved with doing something techie there, but that hasn’t gone anywhere just yet. I’ve talked to the right people. It’s just about getting in when I’m needed.
What I wanted to talk about when I first started this post was the service today. We’ve been going through a series titled Come Together where the main message is that we should find a group of people that we can “do life” with. The whole idea is that a church shouldn’t be just a building, or a place we go for an hour a week, but it should be something that we can really get in touch with and learn about, and most importantly lean on when we need it. That’s where the small groups plan comes in. They’re trying to put together a way for small groups to get together and share in life with each other. Help each other when stuff gets hard, or just have a good time learning about God together. I’m really excited to get involved with these. I’ve always been really nervous about joining in with stuff like this, but this church teaches nothing but the love of Jesus. It’s incredibly refreshing. They don’t deny the fire and brimstone (which I think is necessary and biblical), but it isn’t the focus. The main mission of the church is “Love people where they are, and help them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.” A lot of churches say that, but I FEEL that here. You could walk in in any condition at all and you would find people willing to talk to you and love you. It’s incredible.
There is no ceremony or pomp that goes along with a service. Everyone is dressed however they are comfortable, no one looks down on anyone, and we’re all there to do the same thing. It’s such an incredible atmosphere. I actually look forward to going to church on Sunday. I never thought that would be me. I always grew up thinking “I don’t need a church. I can worship God just fine at home.” Which is true, but you miss out on learning, fellowship, and growth. I’ve learned so much and been so happy with it. I can’t believe it took me 27 years to finally find a church I could understand, and I went to Christian school! That place taught me life was all about the rules, which didn’t really fit with my independent, punk rock attitude. I wasn’t a bad kid by any means, but I squeezed in my fair share of civil disobedience. I went as far as I could with things and not get in trouble. I work a spiky belt with my school uniform for instance. It didn’t look right, but I wasn’t going to let these people take away who I was.
Wow, I started to venture into another whole blog post right there. That rant is for another time. I get really up in arms when people try to tell me what to do if it doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, I said all that to really just say that I love the church we found and I can’t wait to really see what God decides to do with us in the coming months to years. It should be a pretty awesome adventure :)