Musings on Church

There was a boy who came to youth group, just because a girl invited him.  He had nothing else to do that night, and she invited him, so he came.  The leaders were friendly and the kids were friendly and over the night, his tentativeness turned into laughter and his hesitance into participation.

And when the night was over, the leaders and some of the kids said “are we going to see you next week?” and he said, “this happens every week? Is it here? Same time? Yeah, I think I’ll be back!”

And he was.

That night, the youth group was focused on planning “Youth Sunday.”

So a week later, he helped the youth group lead the congregation in worship.  He hadn’t been to church in a long time and didn’t understood much of what was going on, but it was “Youth Sunday”—and he was a youth.  He stood with the other teens and sang with the congregation.  He wore a Youth Sunday t-shirt.  He passed out bulletins.

He was back the next week.  That week, he signed up to lead a middle school mission week later in the summer.

That night, the girl that invited him asked me, “do you think it would be okay if I bought him a Bible? He’s asking a lot of questions and I don’t know how to answer them all. Oh, and did you know he signed up for our high school discipleship trip this summer?”

And I smiled.

In high school, I attended a church where you couldn’t sign up for summer trips without providing the trip leader with your written statement of faith.  Youth Sunday was the work of a small group of teens with polished testimonies and sterling reputations.  When I tried to make friends in the youth group, I was gossiped about for being “too popular” and having “too many friends at school,” with the dramatic punchline “and most of them aren’t even Christians!”

I’m glad I’m at this church now, with these Christians, with these non-Christians.

I’m glad I serve a God who is big enough to be glorified by the worship of a kid with no clue about His magnitude—only that he feels something and wants to know more.

God welcomes us extravagantly to the table that is set for all.  And although I did not set the table, it is my joy to pull out chairs for others and tell them I hope they stay for dessert.

6 thoughts on “Musings on Church

  1. I have loved reading your blog, Sarah, but have never commented. This time you have “smoked me out”. This topic is near and dear to my heart. I am not sure why the culture of “are you saved?” before you can even serve coffee began, but I am with you all the way, and it is long overdue for a “recheck” on our biblical perspectives. I have seen so many come to Christ through “working” on “something” in the church. So, amen sister!

    1. Janet,
      While I did grow from being a part of that church, the youth group was not one of those avenues for my growth (I’m not bitter–just feel it was a missed opportunity since I wanted to be engaged and plugged in but wasn’t accepted). Like I said, though, I still grew and it was because of caring adults like you who were inclusive and real with us. I still remember you talking with us on the winter retreat about how we are God’s “beloved,” and how that word is different than just “loved,” which has always stuck with me. I am still grateful for my parents’ “Home Builders” Sunday school class allowing me to attend way before I had a home to build, and for the wonderful teaching from the pulpit there. I’m glad you’re still sharing that love…it’s so needed by our world!

  2. This made me smile. It reminds me of the “keep your fork” fun times at camp and youth group. May these youth always feel extravagantly welcomed at church.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this Sarah. I think sometimes Christians get in a box having their perfect Christian life. God didn’t come to save us to have us just live a simple middle class life. He came to save the lost. He came to challenge us and get us out of our comfort zone. If we are just friends with “believers” how will we ever get to save the lost. The lost won’t see the glory of Jesus…they won’t want to be like Jesus if we are “cliquey”. Church should be welcoming…such a rare thing to find. The church I go to in Omaha, I love because of how welcoming it is and how my friends and I are so transparent with each other. My road to Jesus was quite bumpy and how nice to know that my life doesn’t have to look perfect to get accepted by Jesus or my friends…its just trying to become more like Jesus everyday:)

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