"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

16 June 2015

Things I've learned from Grace


Just the name alone fills me with anticipation.  With excitement.  With hope.  With relief.  With love.

Fellowship.  That word, too, conjures up for me the laughter, tears, family, friendships, bonding, working, studying, praying, eating, drinking, doing.

Put them together......Grace Fellowship...and you have my church.

Dave and I are coming up on 10 years of being in the most amazing body of believers we could ever hope to be a part of.  Ten years ago this month, we walked away from the place where we met.....where our daughters were dedicated...where we had had some solid friendships......but where so much of my heart was closed...where I just couldn't be my self.  Where I never really "fit in".  But it was where God had me for a season.  Quite a long season as a matter of fact.

But we won't go into the whys of leaving.  Rather, I am focusing on the things I have learned in the last 10 years of being in an inter-denominational, Evangelical church.

  • I've learned that it is vital that a church have a solid pastor.  That he be solid in his preaching, teaching, role-modeling. That he isn't afraid to lead by example. That he isn't afraid to preach Jesus and the message of salvation.  That he is organized and attentive to the needs of his church body.  And that he is held accountable by a group of elders.  That he is approachable.  That he is representing Christ well.
  • I've learned that grace goes a long way.  That there are core Biblical truths that must always be followed and taught.  But that there are conviction areas and preferences and that it is ok to be different from the person sitting behind or in front of you at church.  That it's ok to like and sing classical hymns even when another Believer likes and sings contemporary songs. That it is ok that we all educate our children in different methods. That some of us are convicted that television is a waste of time and others of us are ok with drinking wine.  I've learned that we can extend grace to one another and still be in the same body.  That we can love and accept one another even when our methods of living are different.  
  • I've learned what it is like to worship under excellent musicians.  And what that sounds like when about 1200 people fill the sanctuary.  I love it.
  • I've learned that having a vital youth ministry is extremely important even if your teenager rolls her eyes.  I've learned that working with teens is difficult and not for just anyone.  That it really is a calling.  I've learned that there is a right way and a not-so-right way of dealing with youth groups and that methods are going to change when times and culture is constantly changing.  And I've learned that this is ok.
  • I've learned that I love shorter services.  I've learned that it's not the quantity of time in the house of the Lord, but rather the quality of the worship and the Word. 
  • I've learned that it is necessary to the well being of our children and teens (and yes even to our adults) that we have strict security practices and fingerprint background checks.  I've learned that it is a good thing that proper discipline is meted out when inappropriate or harmful situations arise.
  • I've learned that it is ok to say No and still be considered a vibrant member of the congregation.  I've learned that not everyone has to do everything.  I've learned that we all have different giftings to bring to the body....and that there are seasons for engaging those giftings.  That there is a season of service and it might change....again......methods change but the message stays the same.
  • I've learned that all leadership need to represent Christ well in the community and in the church building....because when leadership does so, the members and attendees are more likely to do so.
  • I've learned that small group ministries are extremely vital for one's spiritual growth.  I've learned that I AM a leader and that no one will be upset if I step down for a while to rest.
  • I've learned that I can be my self.  Finally.
  • I've learned that my children LIKE going to church and have solid friendships there because of youth group and small groups.
  • I've learned that life is difficult for all of us at one time or another but that the power of prayer can break strongholds.  I've learned that Grace Fellowship Church really gets the grace thing.
  • I've learned that everyone should be serving in some small way and that there are many ways to serve, not just in a leadership role and that it is expected for members.  And that members actually WANT to serve.
  • I've learned that a well run church needs many members and staff.  And that, just like in business, there needs to be a head person overseeing the workers and that this is vital.  
  • I've learned that just preaching the gospel of salvation is not enough...that we need to be in the world shining the Light of Jesus and it is through our grace in action...in serving our community, that this is best accomplished.  That the unbeliever will observe us...oh how they will observe us...and that our actions really do speak louder than our words.
  • I've learned that those words need to be peppered with light, love, and grace.  With hope.  With empathy.  With understanding.
  • I've learned that there all kinds of Christians in our body.  Not just white, middle-class, professionals but all kinds.......people of color, all socioeconomic statuses are present, different languages spoken, different religious/church backgrounds, different conviction and preferences, different life styles and educational backgrounds and yet we are all united because of Jesus.
  • I've learned that my church is welcoming to all.  We don't turn away the sinner because we all are sinners....and there is no perfect church because we all need Christ...and that we can sit by someone who identifies as being gay, or mentally ill, or drug addicted, or divorced, or childless, or motherless, or single or married, or co-habitating, or too many children or not enough money or rich or poor or schooled or unable to read and the list goes on and on and to God we are all one......we all need a Savior to Redeem us and set us free.  And we are to be salt.  And Light...the ones who know that Savior.  And if no one embraces the Gospel, it is ok because we are sharing it....we are doing it...and one day...one day, they will see...and prayerfully accept this gift.  And if they choose not to, they will at least know there is a place where grace is extended.
I've learned that grace is amazing. And while we sing of that Amazing Grace, we stir our hearts to hope.  To hope of a future where God reveals His Plans and His Purposes.

I've learned that I  love my church family.  That even though I will never know everyone intimately in this huge mega-church, that the leaders get it.  They get grace.

Grace...God's grace.  Something I am never going to take for granted.

Oh, how blessed we have been in these last ten years.


Deb said...

Great post. Sounds like you have found a good place to worship that works well for your family. It is so important to have love and support from the church leaders and church family as we raise our children in this often very "un-Christian" world we live in. God continue to bless you and your family as you seek Him!

Homemanager said...

Very nicely written, Faith. The Lord knows where we all need to be. He is the one that has begun the work and He will complete it in many different ways and in different places. I'm very happy for you!

Simply Linda said...

Great post Faith. Thank you for sharing. Blessings