Sunday, December 16, 2012

Church Isn't About The Building

The church visits I enjoy the most are the ones where a friend invites me.  Knowing even one other person in a congregation makes it so much easier to go through those doors. These doors, this visit, were pretty unconventional.

The church I attended last Sunday, Disciples Church, (DC) is a growing community focused on God and on service to others. They meet in a local school, setting up signs and tables and chairs and children's rooms each Sunday morning and then taking it all down again at the end of service. Some people wore nametags, which I liked because I am terrible with names. Everyone dressed in a way that made them comfortable. Jeans, slacks, dresses, even some shorts on such a warm Texas December morning. (I like a casual service, but I know it's not for everyone.)

I really didn't know what to expect. I've been to another church that was held in a school, and the logistics of it distracted me for a little while.  Is it a rental? Who else can rent the space? What are the terms of the agreement? Then a fierce gladness rises up inside me that some anti-religious group or another hasn't come across these kinds of arrangements.

People know each other at this church. They chatted and visited, and kids sat together comfortably and colored or wrote or drew. There is a feeling of gladness in the room, thankfulness that they are all together once more and able to worship. It's a feeling I've sensed in some other churches during this journey, and it's one that I hope DC continues to feel.

We sang a few Christmas carols, and then the worship minister said he'd found a song that he hoped would be a welcome addition to the season's music. "Hallelujah, What a Savior".  When I tried to find this song, a much older hymn kept coming up-- I haven't been able to find the lyrics nor the music that we sang that morning. Yet it began with lyrics that fit the wonder of that day when Christ was born.

Pastor Tim Worden has a simple, but thorough way of examining things. He said he was trying to avoid the "pastor's temptation to be slick," knowing that no service is ever truly perfect. His sermon, he said, was based off what he felt he'd been given through reading his Life Journal.

Sidenote:  DC encourages all attendants to grab a Life Journal (they'll give you one if you don't have one) and use it daily to work your way through the Bible.  One reads, then one prays and writes down their thoughts from the reading. It's a neat journal, and I was grateful that they were available since I haven't seen them elsewhere.

The sermon was titled "Those Who Are Rich," and after Pastor Tim was done speaking I felt rich indeed with verses to carry with me.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 -- Be rich in good deeds.

Matthew 6:20 -- Hope in God, not in riches.

Luke 11:11-13 -- If even fathers who are, at heart, broken, can give; how much more will our perfect Father give to us?

Matthew 16:25 -- You must lose yourself to gain.

Matthew 6:21 -- "For where your treasure lay, there your heart will be also.

Not the kind of treasure I want.

Each church I've attended has asked for my visitor contact information. Sometimes I fill out the cards, sometimes I even put the card in the collection plate. The last two or three churches, I've added a little note about this quest. I've even gotten two email responses, and this last week's made me think.

Pastor Tim wrote:  "As we know, "church" is more than a place or event that happens on Sundays. Church is a Christ-led community of people living in relationship with God and one another... doing what He does where He has sent us."

Furthermore, Pastor Tim invited me to be a part of their community, regardless of where I go on Sunday mornings. I went caroling with them this week to a nursing home. And I hope other opportunities to serve and meet will present themselves.

One thing I'm discovering, much as the Grinch did with Christmas-- maybe church doesn't come in a building. I knew this, I think, and yet I am learning it anew with each visit. It isn't where we meet, and it isn't the style of worship, but it's the people and the community and the service we can give to others. That is what I'm looking for.

One Way to Have Prayer in School.

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