“Coming over to watch the game Sunday? It starts early this week.” Paul’s place was the usual hangout as he had the biggest screen. This was never discussed because it was a no-brainer.
“No way I’ll make the kickoff,” said Juan. We’re getting Angel baptized on Sunday and then it will be pictures—of course—and lunch with the family after.”
“I hate family pictures . . . and hey . . . what?! You still do the church thing?!” Paul didn’t even vote anymore because his polling place was at a church and he couldn’t make himself go inside.
“Yeah, we do church for the big stuff. We’re catholic you know—it’s kinda part of our identity—our heritage. It’s no big deal, and it makes the grandparents happy.”
“Actually, me too. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, but I started going again about a year ago.” Now it was Steve’s turn to weigh in. “It was when I started going to AA. Some of the guys there talked about putting your faith in a power greater than yourself—God, right? So, anyway these guys were regular guys like us, but they talked about church . . . well, differently.”
“Couldn’t be different enough for me,” Paul said with conviction. “As soon as I could choose for myself, I was gone. I’ll never set foot in one of those tombs again.”
“Okay, I hear you.” Steve was still a little unpracticed at talking about it, but recalling all the encouragement he had received, he rallied to the conversation. “But when the AA group talked about church, they said ‘we.’”
“Uh, you’re going to have to develop that a bit,” said Juan. “We can only read your mind when it comes to Mahomes and the Chiefs.”
Juan’s comment gave Steve just enough time to compose his thoughts. “Well, they didn’t talk about church like it was a place. And they didn’t talk about it like they were spectators at somebody else’s gig. Like you said, Juan, there is a sense of identity; but there’s also mission and purpose. It feels good to be part of something bigger than the three amigos snack club we’ve got going. I guess church isn’t really a place or a brand—it’s people—and God of course.”
“It’s the losers in churches that are the problem,” exclaimed Paul. A church-goer! I can’t believe it!”
Juan gave Paul a friendly shove. “You’re one to talk about losers!”
“Admitting I was a loser was the start of the biggest turnaround in my life,” said Steve. “I’ll be over before halftime—after church!”
The story of us all:
The church of Jesus Christ is not a denomination or a building on the corner. The capital “C” Church is made up of true believers everywhere. When we gather into smaller communities or congregations, we are in the environment God uses to mature our faith and we’re part of the movement God is using to accomplish His purposes on earth today.
One important Scripture:
Ephesians 4:15-16 – "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
Your own story:
Ask someone: Do you see church as essential in your life?
Ed and I had 2 favorite churches in our past--an Evangelical Covenant church in Michigan and a Baptist church in North Carolina.
Pastors - They both had pastors who preached interesting, Bible based sermons, and they were also very caring. For example, when Ed had prostate surgery to remove the cancer, the pastor came to the hospital. I told him that I was fine, he didn't need to stay. But he said I didn't have family there and he stayed several hours until Ed was in recovery.
Deacons - Both churches had 12 deacons with the church members divided into 12 groups. Each deacon was responsible to pray and care for his group. Each group would also have fellowship times together. When new deacons were elected every few years the groups changed and everyone got to know new people.
Missions - Both churches had active mission groups. One group got together to read prayer letters and pray for missionaries they supported. Some members of the congregation organized service projects and mission trips. These things were reported in Sunday morning service, and church members were given opportunities to help.
Needless to say, we made some good friends that we still keep in regular contact with.
Church is essential to our family! I love people, and Church has always been it's most impactful to me the more I am there deepening relationships and caring for my family/friends. I love Converge for that reason! So many friends, and people that encourage me to walk faithfully with my God!
We were created to worship God, and God desires that we worship Him collectively. I look forward to gathering with God's people each Sunday morning at Converge in the Worship Center and then with my Community Group. We worship together, we learn and grow together, pray together, and encourage one another. May God continue to bless Converge Church!
My church family has always been an important part of my life. As I grew up we were at the church every time the doors were open. Especially in my teen years, I was super insecure at school but quite outgoing at church. I know thats because I felt connected and encouraged when I was with my church family. It's the same now. Church to me is about doing life with all of you.
My memories of church life are so rich! I remember playing hide and seek in a dark church building and setting up tents for VBS in the church yard. I remember a pajama clad ice cream run and my father pastor being carried up the stairs into the sanctuary when he was too weak to walk there himself. In my growing up years our church met five teams each week--and I remember coming to an age and experience when I realized how many shortcomings we experienced together. I remember attending a number of small struggling rural churches and adding my own struggling attempts to worship and to serve. I remember long and late night elder meetings when I was not yet 30 and knocking heads with other leaders. But I remember it all with fondness and gratitude. For all its failings and frailties I love the body of Christ!
I grew up in the church, but my experience hasn’t always been the same. My dad was a pastor in the Methodist church and in those early years we moved from one town to another about every four years. As such, church for me was always a place and never a people let alone a family. I always felt like a visitor or observer wherever I went.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college and moved to Omaha that things started to change. At that time I stopped attending the Methodist church and began attending Community Bible Church. Over the next few years, my church experience began to transform as I learned to fellowship more intimately with a body of fellow believers. I began to identify as being a part of a body and not just attending a church.
The final transition from membership (identify with) to family member (integrated) occurred shortly after Rachel and I were married and we decided to be part of a church plant from Community Bible Church. From that point on we have been fully integrated into our church family where ever that has been. We have been blessed to serve alongside many friends and acquaintances along the way.
Church is very important to me. When I was very young, a neighbor asked my parents if they could take me to church. My parents agreed and whenever the neighbor could not take me, they would make sure that I would get to church. My parents listened to the service on radio. If that neighbor has not asked me to go to a “church”, I would not have known about Jesus.
I met Larry at a church setting on January 1, 1966. If I was not part of a church, I would not have met Larry. I was a member of a Christian Young Adult group called CYAD’s in Council Bliffs. Our sponsor was speaking in Omaha at the 1st Presbyterian Church on Sunday evening. That group had a meal before the program. Larry bowled with that group from Omaha and came that evening. We talked and he took me home. On the way home he asked me out for three events that next week. He lived in Omaha and I lived in Council Bluffs. We were married on October 1.
The pastor of Temple Baptist Church saw that we were married in a GARB church and left a message at our apartment with an invitation to attend Temple. We became members and both of our sons were born while we were there at Temple. We left temple to go to Bethany Baptist because of the youth program at Bethany. My youngest son said to me after attending a service at Bethany: “Mom, if dad still wants to go to Temple, could he drop us off here and then he can go on to Temple? That did it. We changed churches. At Bethany we felt closer to Jesus and uplifted by the church members and the worship service.
Bethany became Eagle Heights and then we merged with Harvey Oaks which is now Converge. In this stage of our lives, being seniors, we contribute when we can. We look forward to worshiping with other Christians each Sunday. When we can’t attend in person, we watch the service on Facebook. It is our preference to worship at church with other believers. We attend various Bible studies and social functions where we learn more about Jesus and have fellowship with other members. It’s very important for us to be with Christians whenever we can. It starts at church!