Almost two years ago I wrote for threads for the first time when I dared you to love my local church. I had a great response to the article, which seemed to hit home for many.
So here I am with my top tips for ‘So you’ve dared to love your local church; now let’s not burn out and, instead, still be there in years to come, watching for signs of the kingdom’. Not my catchiest title but I’m sure you’ll get where I’m going with this….
1. Never underestimate the joy you bring just by showing up
“What can I do; where can I be used?!” Good questions. But did you know just by sitting in a pew; by attempting to sing along to the more obscure 19th century hymns as well as singing the newer Celtic stuff with great gusto, you are bringing grace, joy and encouragement to all around you? Seriously. For a while at least, it’s enough.
2. Jump in with both feet
Going to your local church while still attending the home group or evening service of the ‘other’ church in your life will do two things. First, it will set an example that your local church will never be able to match – and probably doesn’t want to, seriously, small and local is cool – ask the Green Party. Second, it will mean that there’s a decent chance that you’ll spend all of your ‘free’ time with Christians. Don’t get me wrong; some of my best friends are Christians. But it’s really not the point, is it? Jump in with both feet; even if just for a bit.
3. Bring in the new as you appreciate the old
Being new will mean that you have an opportunity to bring a little bit of new as well. What’s your gifting, passion or favourite thing in a church? Do it. But as well as doing the thing that you hope others will try, try the other stuff going on too. I wonder what your church does that you might unexpectedly love? Church got a knitting group? Buy yourself some needles. Line dancing? Get some cowboy boots. You get the picture. People will love you for it and be much more willing to give your thing a go – and you might have fun.
4. Read a book (but not just any book)
People love giving me books. And I do read what I’m given, honest. But I read other stuff too; stuff that inspires my particular variety of brain and vocation; makes my heart yearn for change and lifts my spirit. Sounds good? Ask your church leader what they’re reading at the moment and buy yourself a copy.
5. Jesus saves so you don’t have to
My teeth are on edge for even daring to type such a cringe worthy statement. The thing is, it’s true. If only we believed it. Over the years I’ve had a number of people quote Isaiah 61 to me: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me… that’s me, that is!” I’m not for one moment doubting that the spirit of the Lord is indeed on these marvelous people, but let’s be clear, this is a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus – he said it himself. It’s already happened. The amazing thing is we get to take part in the completing of Jesus’ work – not because the world – or our church – would fall apart without us, just because that’s how this whole turn-your-world-upside-down-incarnation-gig works. You are not the Saviour and neither am I. Thank God for that.