I can understand why people don’t feel like they belong in church.
They want God but not church. They have faith but don’t want fellowship. They desire hope but feel helped-less by the church.
I grew up attending church; from the age of seven I have attended nearly every Sunday of my life. Sometimes I have loved it. Other times I have hated it, and I wanted to leave. My head gets why people reject church, but my heart doesn't.
I have witnessed the church move in beauty and grace, fulfilling its purpose on this earth in the most divine manner. I have also witnessed it in the deeps of despair – lost and wandering in such a way that the world seems more enticing.
The church is not perfect. It is not perfect because the church is you and I and we are not perfect.
Showing up on Sunday in our best clothes, putting on a smile, and using pleasantries doesn’t cut it. We need more. People need more.
Church is not about arriving at faultless perfection. It is not about mimicking the people on the platform, in look or style, or attending every meeting to be seen. It never works when these are our motives. We find ourselves feeling rejected or proud, offended and judging, always grumbling. We can’t tolerate others and they can’t tolerate us.
So what is church? What should it be?
To me, church is a collection of people who belong to God. Simple.
Our appearance should not matter, neither should our past or future, our age and our status is irrelevant. It is not about what we do or don’t do. It is about who we are – children of God.
Many use the word fellowship, yet I feel it goes beyond this, it is more than a fellowship, it is family, a place to belong. We are His family - some what crazy at times, but we are His. God’s great and mighty family. We are a clan of sons and daughters who are most beloved by a Father.
It is only in this environment, where we acknowledge that it is God’s house, can all our individual personalities mould together successfully. It is not our house, it is His, and we must respect the Father of the house. He offers us His house and desires that we call it ours - just like any good and loving parent does.
When we come to church it should be like coming home to our earthly parent's place. It should be where we feel comfortable; where we know we can be ourselves and still be loved. We can kick off our shoes, and eat what we like. Where we can share our stories. We can cry and we can laugh. We can hug and find acceptance. Where we embrace each other as the unique individuals we were created to be. It is here, as family, that we find true belonging.
When we recognise that we are loved children of a great Father, all selfishness melts, comparison flees, rejection no longer has a foothold, and division disappears.
We are not perfect, but our Father is, and we carry His covering. His perfection covers our imperfections. His grace fills our ungraciousness. His love insures our lovelessness. This is family – we are His family. And church is our place to belong.