I have done a fair amount of traveling over the last few months through various parts of the South, and have come to realize something: when I am away from my church family on Sundays, I find myself homesick.
It’s somewhat shocking for me to come to this realization. As I’ve written about before, it’s taken a long time for me to really embrace Hoboken as home. Coming here has required being a part of a culture vastly different from the one I moved from, and in the past I have sometimes felt like an outsider in church that purposes to reach young urban professionals.
As one who grew up in the church as a pastor’s kid, a Bible College student, and former church staff member, it’s often easier for me to slip into the role of critic on Sunday mornings. If I’m not careful, the analytical part of my brain kicks into gear and I start evaluating different aspects of the worship experience rather than being an active worshipper. There are many things about the church universal that I love and many that frustrate me, especially when I tap into what is going on in with those who identify as “Christians,” the culture in which I was raised, and the media. I am an idealist, so tend to see all that things could be, but I can also be easily disappointed when they don’t live up to the high standards I have set. It is easy to become disillusioned with the church, because it is built of broken people. We fail, we make far too many choices out of selfishness than love, and yet we continue to strive towards the curious, attractive, and subversive Way of Jesus.
It is a sweet realization to recognize that when I’m away, I miss the familiar, smiling faces of my home church here in Hoboken and the warm greeting we receive when we walk through the doors on Sunday morning. Traveling to other churches helps me to better appreciate the passion, talent, and authenticity of our worship team. In hearing other pastors preach, I recognize how pointedly the teaching on Sunday is applicable in my life as a twenty-something living outside New York City. One of my favorite things about my church is how we purpose to celebrate things both big and small in the life of our community. It is a habit I want to cultivate more strongly through all aspects of my life. I want to become an encourager more than a critic. Today, these are some of the things I am grateful for:
- A church that understands the culture in which it was planted, and is relevant to the young (millennial!) urban professional residing here: largely 20-30 somethings
- A church that is more focused on how to love its local community well rather than getting caught up in traditional wars of culture, worship style, and leadership roles
- A church that continually challenges its attendees to focus on the people outside it’s “doors” (we meet in school buildings!), and always asks the question, if we were to leave tomorrow, would Hoboken notice?
- A church made up of many people who are embracing faith as their own for the first time and just beginning to discover what it looks like to follow Jesus
What do you love about your church community? Do you find it easier to be frustrated with the church than to celebrate where you see God moving?