Meet Alyssa. You may remember her from a few years back when she shared her testimony here on my blog. I have asked her back again to share how she managed to stay connected to the Church in a season when she didn’t have a “church home”. Alyssa’s story certainly helps answer our question: why bother with church? I’m sure you will appreciate her honesty and glean from her life lesson. Only by grace, Kelli
I grew up in the church, and I never once questioned the benefits of attending. In my mind, it was simply somethings Christians were supposed to do. We worship together, give offerings, hear a sermon, and recharge for the week ahead. I always loved church. Perhaps it was my time spent on the worship team or the fact that I’ve always loved to study and learn. Regardless, I looked forward to Sunday mornings.
About four years ago, my husband experienced a major disappointment at our home church. He was a major part of the worship team, words were said, feelings were hurt, and it felt as if things were crumbling beneath us. The church itself crumbled as well. Nearly every person we knew left to attend elsewhere. It was a mess.
Deeply wounded, my husband asked if we could take a break. He was extremely burned out and wondered if and how he would ever feel “at home” again in a church.
My family spent the next 3-4 years without a church to call home. We visited a few churches here and there, but nothing seemed to “fit.” During this time, I craved teaching and Bible study in a way I never had before. I always loved to learn, but something about not being fed on a weekly basis made me want to dive even more into my studies. I prayed for connection, and God answered my prayers.
Along the way, He taught me a lot about what it means to be connected as the body of Christ.
- Remember who the church is. I use the word “who” for a reason. The church is made up of people who love God. It isn’t confined to four walls. I wonder if perhaps the fact that we have so many churches makes it easy to forget that we’re all connected. Just because two people attend different churches, doesn’t mean they are any less related spiritually. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God never meant for us to be separated by theological and denominational differences.
- Remember the purpose of church. It’s easy to view church as one of our “Christian duties.” It falls right in there with reading our Bibles and praying. But these were never meant to be duties. They are amazing gifts from God – tools to help us grow and connect with Him as well as with each other.
With these truths in mind, I knew I had to find a creative way to connect to the body of Christ while we waited for God’s direction as a family.
The Bible calls us to come together as Christians to connect, to love, to grow, to learn, and to serve.
Shortly after the “mess” happened at our home church, I was invited to attend a women’s Bible study just minutes away from my house. (It even provided classes for my young daughters, so I had no excuse not to attend!) I had no idea what to expect; but since I had been purposefully praying for a way to connect, I knew I had to seize this opportunity to try something new.
It was everything I had been searching for. My husband still needed time to heal from everything that had happened, but God provided a way for me and my daughters to stay connected in the meantime. It was through this study that God taught me what it means to be the Church. Women coming together from over 100 different churches to study God’s Word… it was amazing!
I still attend this study, and now my family has finally found a new home church. The funny thing is, it fell into our laps at just the right time. (God has a way of working everything out in His perfect timing – doesn’t He?) The second we walked through the front doors, my whole family felt at home once again. When we picked up our daughters from their classes, they were literally skipping to the car telling us about how much they loved their classes. God is so good!
But this time, we have a new sense of purpose. We know and understand why we are there in a way that we didn’t understand before. God used this time of healing to stir something new in our hearts.
We are there to connect with other believers, to love them unconditionally the way Jesus loves us, to grow in our faith, to learn more about our Savior, and to serve with humility.
We practice these things within the church, so that we can go out into the world and be the church.
Hallelujah! I will praise the Lord with all my heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. – Psalm 111:1 (HCSB)
Alyssa J Howard is a wife and stay-at-home mom to two young girls. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest where she loves to bake, run, drink coffee, and play with her little ones. Alyssa first fell in love with writing while earning her Master of Arts degree in theological studies through Liberty Theological Seminary, and she has been writing about Jesus and the Christian life for the past two years at alyssajhoward.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.