Not long ago I stopped going to the church that my family has attended for the past six years. There were a lot of factors involved, but after a lot of prayer and inner-debate I decided to start going to another church.
I am also currently in the process of moving closer to work, and since work is about an hour away from where I currently live (yes, I drive an hour to work… I’m a bit nuts), I am forced to relocate my entire life. The first thing I began looking for up north was a church, preferably one I could get to without getting on the freeway.
While I searched I started going to another somewhat-local church that was led by my middle school youth pastor. I have always enjoyed listening to him preach, and I thought it would be a good chance to reconnect with people that I hadn’t seen in years.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
While I very much enjoyed the sermons, I never really felt… welcome. I wasn’t expecting to be the belle of the ball or anything, but a simple “hello” from these people whom I’ve known for years would have been appreciated. A couple of people talked to me a little bit, but for the most part I felt like I was invisible. It was kind of depressing.
I had started making a list of churches in or around my new neighborhood, and today I decided to check one of them out. And let me just say that driving a busy freeway on a Sunday is so nice compared to driving it during rush hour!
From the moment I walked in the door of the church I felt welcomed. The first person I encountered was the senior pastor and his wife, and they introduced me to several other people before showing me to the correct Sunday school room. People were friendly without being intrusive, and I appreciated the way that they made me feel welcome.
The part that really touched me was when the Sunday school class prayed for me, and then after the service the pastor and his wife talked with me and prayed for me. To them I was just a visitor whom they had no idea if they would see again, but to me it was a comfort and a relief to have someone show that they care. Not having a church home is hard for me, and having people who I’ve never met welcome me – a stranger – and pray for me really made a difference. I had been going to a church with people who I’ve grown up with, yet for the most part I was invisible. And these perfect strangers at a strange church made me feel more at home than I’ve felt in months.
That is how the body of Christ should work.