Church {s}Hoppers.

I am learning something on this adventure in Idaho. A something I forget and need reminded of. I am prompted with the truth that a lot of our friends, family, and people in general do not have what we have in Corvallis. I am reminded of the deep blessing, the true treasure we have been privileged to be a part of: a healthy, very imperfect, growing in Spirit, committed community of people who crave to know Jesus and spread Jesus. I am reminded that until I joined this thing labeled "church plant," church was simply and solely a morning event that occurred one time, maybe twice, a week. As we have visited with some of our friends, a hunger to spread a new thinking, a new idea, of "church" grows within Loren and I. How can we help people's understanding of church expand, not merely in their heads, but through living experience? Through our sphere of life in Corvallis, we can be a part of deepening others' understanding - and that is because we are there, living with that purpose for that city.

Throughout this week, a number of our friends have casually expressed that they have gone through a season or are currently "church (s)hopping." My heart has slightly slumped for you, as I know from experience the blessings you are missing out on. I crave the best for you and ache for the wholeness of Christ in your life, which I believe is birthed out of a true community of believers. A community you are invested in, a community you live life with...a community that breaks bread together, shares their belongings, and disagrees on topics but are still able to have a healthy conversation and a growing {honest} relationship. A community that grows you more towards Christ, that inspires you to share Jesus with those around you. If we are honest, life is hard enough as it is and we don't need others trying to put us in a box shaped like "Christianity" and pointing out all of our flaws - what we do need is other honest people who acknowledge that they are just as broken as me, and life is hard enough as it is...and we should simply share a goal to encourage one another, towards righteousness with grace.

First, I can see the attraction to church (s)hopping - it is "safe." Safe in the sense that you don't even have the opportunity to be in a deep relationship, sharing your pains and hurts and struggles. Because that, my friends, is truly scary/terrifying/frightening/and risky. Safe in the sense that you aren't pushed as hard to serve and be connected. But can I just express the deep healing and growth that has come {in my life and so many others} from those deep relationships, sharing my pains and struggles? It can be embarrassing to share some (or all) of these things, but when you have invested so deeply in one or two relationships within a church body, it becomes "safe" to share and receive guidance; it is liberating! I will admit, as everyone knows, relationships are hard. Relationships require selflessness and humility, giving and receiving.Β  A healthy, stable relationship doesn't happen immediately, but takes time (years, possibly) to build - that demands commitment. Commitment even through confrontation and imperfection. And its worth it. "To love at all is to be vulnerable" {-C.S Lewis} and its worth it.

When I first think of the term "church (s)hoppers," my mind immediately jumps to " They just have a critical eye." Which may or may not be true. However, I do want to ask the question: what are you looking for? What will it take to compel you towards commitment? A wise man {Mike Miller} has often said, "If you find the perfect church, don't join it, or you'll mess it up." Let that ruminate.

I truly yearn to inspire and encourage others to join a church community. Find one and stay there. If you're constantly running from church to church because of this or that, you will be constantly running {from church to church because of this or that}. The common denominator may be you. Do you want to teach your kids the habit of instability, distrust, and independence? Do you want to spread that through generations? That is what we are looking at. But really, the blessings that flow from a true community of people, living in the same area, attending the same schools, sharing the same workplace in the same culture...we understand one another more than we realize. We are living in the same context, so why not pursue Jesus together in an honest way? If we are not willing to fellowship and truly relate to one another (even through disagreements), what makes us think we are able to grow andΒ  therefore spread the gospel? Is part of the gospel not this Good News of true provision {in all sorts of ways} through true fellowship?

Imagine this: You have heard of Jesus and "Christianity", but aren't really interested; "it isn't for you." But what if you were at the Fourth of July fireworks celebration with your small {and possibly broken} family, and you notice a growing mass of people gathering in the grass next to you. A clump of people who obviously know one another; they're laughing, eating, having a jolly good time - it is obvious there is a deep connection there. And what if they genuinely offered for you and your children to join their large group, offering to share all of their snacks and blankets, not caring that "you aren't married and you have children." Opening up a world of fun for your children, opening you up to complete acceptance, laughter, and a night of pure joy. What if somehow and someway, the conversation of Jesus and church naturally came up and the dots were connected that THIS was a community of people who gathered to simply be together. To enjoy the culture of Independence Day, to encourage one another in their daily struggles of parenting and the workforce, to share a meal and simply laugh, sharing grace. What if this was church? Would you join that?