Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Church-hopper"

Church-hopper.

Have you ever heard the term? I've heard it a lot. It is said as a negative thing. A bad thing.

I admit, I have used it against people before. In the past, I have called people "church-hoppers". 

Oh, the horror.

My fear is being called a church-hopper. 

But here we are, hopping to another church.Only... not REALLY. Not in a bad way.

This is the thing. All my life, I have been very faithful in church attendance. As a baby, we went to Zoar. My parents started going to Cornerstone when i was very little (preschool age, I think) & I was there until age 9. We moved to Central then & I began attending Victory Academy... and that's when we started to attend the Victory church, too. I went there from age 9 or 10 until I was 26 years old. I was very faithful, there every time the doors were open. My parents started going to Covenant when i was about 17 or so, I'm guessing...  but i stayed where i was. I knew God had put me there, He was doing amazing things in my life there. I was growing in my faith by leaps and bounds. I volunteered most of my time there as a youth leader. And later a youth advisor. Which is basically the same thing, except advisors were older and have more responsibilities. 

It was all very good. I had some great friends, some amazing mentors, I left church with pages of notes from sermons and with a joyful heart. Good times. Honestly, I thought it was the perfect church. And it was pretty near it, but as we all know, there is no such thing as a perfect church. People are involved, after all. ;)

So things change, and in 2006, our church split. It was kind of awful. Everyone ended up at some sort of crossroads. Some people stayed at Victory. Some left to go to a new church being started by our youth pastor. That is what I intended to do. But somehow, i found myself at HeartsEase. And God spoke to me through the pastor there by saying, "Welcome home." More to it than that, but he looked me in the face in front of everyone and said those words and i will never forget it. I was SO conflicted about what to do, where to go, i wanted to go to the new church being started, but i was feeling like God was leading me to HeartsEase. And I needed confirmation. I asked God for wisdom, for confirmation, for something to show me I was in the right place. And God gave it to me, clear as a bell. I stayed there for the next 3 years. I got very involved with the worship team, and so did Brad once we got together. I am still in touch with friends from there, i LOVE the pastor, the people, everything. I cannot explain why, but at some point we realized it wasn't the right place for us anymore. And so we left. We began to look for the right church for us.

Since that time, we have been in a constant state of confusion about where to go to church. We visited a few places, but none of them seemed right. After awhile, it got old. I didn't want to visit another new church. It was a little scary! We ended up not going at all for awhile. Miss so many church services and you will begin to get used to your nice relaxing sunday mornings! Haha. We grew comfortable with that...until my heart began to ACHE because i missed gathering together with other believers each week. Worshiping together and listening to the sermon. We finally decided to just go back to the church I went to for so many years. Victory. I liked a lot about it. It had been five years since the split, and it was good to go back & see some friends I hadn't seen in so many years. Plus, there were lots of new faces, too. I had missed Pastor Terry's teaching. And it didn't hurt that I got to see three of my besties every week now!

But even then, I never felt like God led us there. It's almost like we wrote some church names on slips of paper & drew a name! We just had to PICK A CHURCH already! And so we did. I don't think anything is wrong with this. And I don't think I should feel guilty about being in limbo for awhile. This wasn't an instance of us not walking with God. We were just not sure where to go next, and we were trying to find our place. So we have been at Victory, somewhat sporadically. Enjoying the people, enjoying the pastor, but never feeling like it was necessarily our place. We were done searching for the right church for us, though. We were content to just keep going to Victory. I told God months ago that if he had somewhere else for us, to tell us so we could go there. Otherwise, we would stay at Victory. It's a good place to be.
 
Maybe you think that if God was telling us that it was time to move on from HeartsEase, then he would have had another place waiting for us. Maybe so. But I don't think that our short time at Victory was not a good thing. I got close to some friends that I had been missing awhile. And I got to know some new people, too. And there are some sermons I heard that truly changed my way of thinking, for the better. Nothing is wasted.


So. On Easter Sunday, we went to church with my parents. Just because it was Easter and we wanted to be with family. We fully intended on going back to Victory the following Sunday. Making Covenant our church home wasn't something we were thinking about, at all.  But something clicked on Easter Sunday. I have never wanted to go there before. It's the church my parents started going to when i was about 17. And it's where Brad grew up. I think my family either went there or visited there at some point, too, because i remember being there when i was itty bitty, with Brad's family. Anyway. Something clicked in that service on Easter Sunday. And it clicked for Brad, too. We talked about it the whole way home. I can't explain it but perhaps you know what i mean. We had found our place. And we have been going back ever since.

Every single day i think to myself, "I can't wait til Sunday." It's not that Covenant is "better" than Victory, or that Victory was "better" than HeartsEase. Certainly not! It's that we found where we belong.

I have learned that church-hopping is OKAY, if you are just an honest genuine christian trying to find your place. It's OKAY, y'all. What is not okay is leaving where God brought you just because someone offends you. THAT is probably a better definition of the word "church-hopping". Everyone knows that i am not easily offended at ALL. Nothing happened at Victory or HeartsEase to offend me. I was just searching for home. And we have found it. And we are very very thankful.

:)

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