I grew up in church. In fact, I was probably hours old when I first heard the choir sing *wink* and marched with my mom to the offering plate. We went to a "street church" in Vancouver, and it was home away from home. It felt huge and small all at the same time. We knew everyone, it felt like, and the church family was a beautiful thing. Even with so many years passing, the people I knew then, I know now. When I see them, it's like time never passed at all.
I remember memorizing my memory verse on the back of my bedroom door, moments before being seat-belted into the car. I remember going to Sunday school and singing songs that I still hum to this day. I remember going to the service AFTER Sunday school - and learning about worship, Bible reading and being mesmerized by the choir. I remember our family moving, and leaving that church at the age of 10, and starting a new life at a new church. I remember that it was a tricky transition - but that the foundation of the importance of church was so deep, I quickly immersed myself in our new church family.
My husband grew up similarly, and we have recently found ourselves wondering if we have been giving our children the same solid foundation that our parents gave us. We would go to church Sunday mornings and night - and on Wednesday evenings as well. Now - our children simply go to Sunday school while we sit through our own service. We've been wondering if they are learning the importance of the Body of Christ. Or if they see Sunday School as a convenient "day care" while us grown ups try and have our own moments with God.
One problem for us, is that our church's evening service is at 7:30pm. That's our kids bedtime ... and we've used that as our excuse for the last five years. But something beautiful has been happening, and we have found our little family beginning to make room for a very special evening service in our church's gym: the Recovery Service at 6-7pm sharp.
It is exactly what it sounds like ... it's a church service for new believers, for those who are in recovery programs, for those who are passionate about people. It's relaxed and has relevant teaching and testimonies. There's even pizza served (oh how our boys LOVE that!). I've lead worship there a couple of times, and will be leading there again this Sunday night ... and I find myself giddy about it.
It might seem like an unusual place for a young family to go. But I assure you, it isn't. It's a beautiful place to be - and has sparked some really special conversations with our children. Conversations about choices, about taking care of our bodies, about living life without God.
And when I'm there, I find myself thinking: "I could've been them." Really - any of could have. It takes one tragedy and no support to make one bad choice and spiral down. I know that I know that I know, that had I not had the Lord, my family, my friends during the loss of Shalom - I very well could've been just like Crystal.
Crystal is a lady I met on Sunday - who immediately after the service literally RAN to me. I was holding Katia, and she began drilling me with questions and cooed over Katia like she was an angel. Through our few moments together, I found out that Crystal lost a son at 16 months of age due to an outbreak of meningitis in the hospital. She later found out she was pregnant, and had a stillborn birth at 6 months. "And that," she said, "was when I lost myself."
I was her. She was me. And my heart leapt inside of me. I love the Recovery Service.
I know many people who have different views on church. Many, many people have been hurt and disappointed by the "church". Some feel that all churches are corrupt or greedy. Some feel that small churches are better or bigger churches are better ... and some even are prepared to gamble with eternity based on the failures of man - not based on the redemptive truth that's in the cross.
Fo us, we are trying to make choices for our family that we believe will be a solid foundation. We are trying to instil important relationships in their lives so that they have Godly places to turn, if they choose to not turn to us. We are trying to teach our kids about compassion, about the broken, about poor choices. We are trying to teach them about the Word and worship.
These are things that are important to us - and for us, that means making time for church.