Church. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we immediately enter into a community that encourages, restores, convicts, and promises hope and eternity in Heaven. However, we have to chose to belong and embrace it.
A church isn't a building - it's God's people.
As long as I can remember I have been blessed beyond measure with a church body that spoke Truth, challenged my faith and provided deep friendships. I've realized now, I lived in the South at the time, the ultimate Bible-belt, where it seems that every other person you meet is a fellow brother or sister in Christ and there are more solid churches than one can ever chose from.
My specific prayer when we moved to Alaska was for fellowship. Since we were moving thousands of miles away, we knew we needed community if this place would ever feel like home. Praise the Lord, that the first church we went to had a Newly Marrieds Class, where we met some amazing friends who have explored, reached out and encouraged us. This group is awesome.
When we decided that the Lord maybe calling us to attend a different church a few months later, it was a hard decision to leave the new group of fellowship that the Lord had so graciously blessed us and answered our prayers with.
Thankfully beyond that, God even gave us a common bond with a fellow couple to search for a new church home with. God is good, isn't He?
So we began our search and each Sunday we would attend a different church, occasionally looping back to a previously visited one to expand our perspective of it. Almost every Sunday, I left discouraged. There has not been a bright light or a loud voice that points us to where we need to be, not that there typically is. However, I did not remember it being this difficult before.
I realize there is no such thing as a perfect church. It has been a challenge to reflect and discern if we are being too critical or if God is just leading us away from a certain place. Anchorage is a spiritually dry city. I recently heard that Alaska has fewer people per capita than any other state that regularly attend church. Even more disheartening is that some Christians we've met just chose not to involve themselves with any church because they could never find a good fit. That is not an option since Matt and I firmly believe that God calls us to invest in a body of believers.
On one of our "church shopping" visits, a preacher gave a sermon on our focus on why we go to church. So often we look at what can it do for us? Rather than looking at it from the perspective of how can we serve this church? Convicting, since we/I certainly had the approach of looking out for my own personal gain and needs almost the whole time.
It's a journey. One I am anxious to come to fruition soon so we invest and have a "home".
After prayerfully considering the options at hand, we have decided to fully dive into a church we have visited several times and pray that is where God can best use, equip and challenge us. If not, I guess we will continue on the journey and praise the Lord in the midst because as David writes in Psalm 16,
"I have set the Lord always before me;
because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken...
...You make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Our world and everything in it is flawed, except God and his promises. I'm thankful I have that to count on.