If you’ve read Room 1010, you know how much music impacts and inspires me. This weekend, I had the opportunity to see Danny Gokey, Tasha Layton, and Jordan Feliz perform on their Jesus People Tour. From the moment I walked into the auditorium, I could feel the excitement and energy of the crowd. The feeling of anticipation at being able to worship Jesus with so many other people, it was life changing. Tasha Layton performed first. She shared her journey, how she never lost her faith, but had a time where she didn’t attend church after experiencing what she called “church hurt.” She shared how her faith was tested and the path that led her back to church. Her words touched my soul and if I was being honest with myself, resonated with my journey. I, too, had experienced “church hurt.” Her words and songs reached into the depths of my heart.
I have always been a Christian. My parents made sure I was baptized shortly after my birth and sent me to a Christian grade school. I’ve always believed in God and had a relationship with Him. I continued my study of religion during college with a religious studies minor. Once I left my parents’ house for college, I wasn’t going to church each week. While I didn’t lose my faith, I found excuses not to go. I started to question some of the things I had been taught. I didn’t question God’s existence, more the “conditions” that those here on earth have put on their church members. I’ve always believed that the church is not just a building. The church is wherever 2 or more are gathered in his name. Matthew 18:20 tells us that “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I have found comfort in this verse many times over the past 2 years.
When Elynn was born, Dan and I approached the church we were members of to have her baptized. We met with the elders and shortly thereafter, were told they would not baptize Elynn. When I inquired as to why, I was told we didn’t go to church often enough. Dan’s job requires that he worked crazy shift work between second and third shift and with a toddler and newborn at home, I had only been averaging attending in person once a month. Dan and I were devastated and felt they were holding our child back from joining God’s kingdom based on the “conditions” they had placed on us. This was my first experience with what Tasha Layton talked about during the Jesus People Tour when she shared her journey and mentioned the “church hurt” she experienced. I knew how important baptism was. I also knew what Matthew 19:14 said, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Dan and I felt it important to have Elynn baptized as soon as we could. I didn’t agree with the church’s decision and quickly made the decision to have her baptized in the church I grew up in, the church to which we are now members. In June of 2010, she was baptized.
As my children have gotten older, going to church regularly became a lot easier. Now, it’s part of our weekly routine and we look forward to learning and growing in our faith with the others in our congregation. We enjoy worshiping, singing, sharing our love of Jesus and taking part in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Reflecting on the journey to have Elynn baptized, I started to wonder, how many people might have taken the experience we had or other, similar, “church hurt” and turned away from the church, or worse, turned away from God?
How many people do you know that have faith, but don’t attend church or worship with others or have started to question their faith? I’d like to challenge you to have a conversation with them. Invite them to pray with you, to attend church with you. Maybe they have something preventing them from attending-small children that they need help with or a ride to church, etc. Offer to help. Help them grow and strengthen their faith as they witness with others. Let your light shine for all to see-and watch that light spread as you share your faith with others and they in turn share their light. Just like one of my favorite childhood songs “This little light of mind, I’m gonna let it shine…..”