So, from the beginning, let me get a couple disclaimers out there:
#1 – I didn’t say I hate church. I said I hate “Church Shopping”. Both of those things are completely different. I love Church! I need Church. I don’t understand those who say they don’t need church; that they can live their lives without attending a church; that they can have a close relationship with God without attending a church. If I don’t stay involved in a church; if I don’t get plugged into a life group; then my Christian walk suffers.
#2 – I don’t mean to be sacrilegious by comparing finding a church with the retail world I work in daily. If that offends you, then I’m sorry. However, you have to admit that shopping for something at the store has comparisions to finding a church home. You look for a certain “checklist of items” you expect to be there; you hope to see friendly faces; you hope things are just as you like them and “just your size.”
I had the great blessing of attending Geyer Springs First Baptist Church in Little Rock, AR over the last 5 years. I can honestly say it is the best church I have ever attended. Largely because that is the church where I finally quit fighting God and accepted Him as my Saviour. It’s also the place where I met my amazing wife, Arlyn.
However, it is more than that. GSFBC was filled with friendly, caring, non-judging people. God blessed us so much by allowing us to be involved with a class full of couples that struggled with the same things we struggle with. A class of men and women that we could call friends no matter what; that we could call on in a moment when we needed prayer; counseling; etc. There was so much love in that class, it would always overwhelm me(and still does) when I would think of the strength of God in that class.
But, it’s even more than that. God has blessed that church with a man of God who humbly proclaims God’s Word without apology. Bro. Jeff Williams is a Pastor who is transparent with his flock; he doesn’t back down from what the Word says and what the Word requires. However, he is also very quick to show and preach love and grace. I have never been around a Pastor of whom I had so much love and respect.
Then God moved us to NWA. There was no doubt(and still isn’t) that this move was of God. It still humbles me when I think of the many ways he has blessed me and blessed us. But, when we moved here, we had to find a place to serve God. As I said before, I must be involved in a church to keep my relationship with Christ strong.
Over the past 4 months, we visited 5 different churches. We looked at another 5 or more online listening to some of their Pastor’s sermons, reading about “what they had to offer”(real spiritual I know), etc. I can’t tell begin to tell you the frustration we experienced.
If you know me at all, you know that I have a pride problem and I have a judgmental spirit at times. Those two combined make it difficult for me(and especially my wife having to live with me) when it comes to finding a church. We go to one church and the people aren’t friendly and the Pastor seems arrogant(funny coming from me, right?) We go to another church and the people in the service are extremely friendly in the main service. The sermon is okay; but the 2 different life groups we attend, there is no attempt to reach out and connect with us.
Now, part of that responsibility lies on me to be someone who is “reachable”(still working on that pride problem again); but it is also nice to have someone walk up to you, introduce themselves and find out a little bit about you. We go to another church and fill out a card requesting how to join; never hear back; there is no mention at invitation time on what to do to join the church. We continue to go and a few weeks later ask someone how to join. They don’t know but they get our phone number and tell us someone will call us this week to tell us what we need to do to join their church. We never hear back. We finally determine that must mean God doesn’t want us there.
So, we continue to look for where God has a place for us. We joined a church this morning. The people are extremely friendly; the Pastor preaches the Word without apology and seems to have a close walk with God.
So, what’s the point of this blog? I really have no idea. I guess to tell you that I still struggle with Pride and having judgmental attitudes. It could be to tell you what an amazing blessing GSFBC has been and continues to be to me and Arlyn. It could also be to tell you what an amazing blessing Bro. Jeff was to us. I’m so thankful we can listen to his podcasts. And it could also be to help remind you(and especially remind me) how important it is that we reach out to those around us that visit our churches; that visit our life groups; that live next door to us; that work right beside us; that God brings into our lives; etc. As the very familiar phrase goes, “we may be the only Jesus some will ever see.”
No pictures this time … no scripture passages … no impactful testimony …
Just to let you know that God has led us to a church home. Now, we have to find where God would have us serve in this church. Plus, I need to heed all of my words listed above and make sure that each AND every time, we have a visitor or God leads someone into my path that I reach out and show them God’s love.
My WALK TALKS a whole lot louder than my TALK TALKS ..