A Case For Church

Ever have a Monday morning when it’s really hard to open your eyes? That was me this morning. But more than just being tired and struggling for motivation to wake up, today I could not open my eyes. They were physically stuck. Let me explain…

Yesterday we had a carnival after church. There was food, games, auctions, bingo and lots of fun things to do. Dottie “won” 3 goldfish at the ping pong toss. I always say: “it’s all fun and games ’til Dad is feeding three new goldfish the next day”.

One game was called ‘Pie the Pastor in the Face’ – which is fairly self explanatory. My job for two plus hours was to be Pastor, sit out in the sun and have plates of whipped cream smacked in my face. So as the whipped cream piled up, and got baked on, it was like I was sealed in a sugary glaze and then cooked. It was the sweetest i’ve ever been. The smell was different. Imagine spilling a glass of sweet milk on a hot patio table and letting it sit in the sun for a couple hours.

At one point, I saw a new family from the community arrive so I ran over to welcome them unaware that my chin was dripping whipped cream. So… not sure if they’ll ever be back. “Yah… we tried Homestead, but pretty sure the Pastor has rabies.”

By the end of the day my eyes were very sore and red due to enough whipped cream working its way in there. At about 11pm I put some eye drops in and went to bed. Well, during the night, my eyes watered, removing remaining whipped cream, creating very sticky eye lashes, which then stuck together. I woke up this morning with eyes stuck shut. Couldn’t open them.

I took that as a sign from God that I should just go back to sleep. “Yes Lord, I will heed your call”

Throughout the busy day yesterday and again when I woke up this morning with glued eyes, I kept thinking this thought:

I love church.

It was a really busy day yesterday. But Kristie and I were once again privileged to spend it with people we love. Kids were running around having fun, building friendships. Neighbors volunteered to bring grills, tents and bean bag games. Other ministries let us use all their tables and chairs for free. The Methodist church we rent from helped by hosting Bingo. (those Methodists know their Bingo) We had most of our church volunteering all day, donating time and money to help us serve our community.

Kristie and I always end a day like yesterday smiling, reminding ourselves how lucky we are to have these people around us. People who work hard all day and still manage to make it so much fun. “We’ve got gooood people” is something we say often.

I love our church.

My point in all this is not that Homestead Community Church is so great and you should attend. Although it is, and if you wanted to come, we’d love to have you. But it’s more than that…for I could list the names of a hundred of my friends who attend different churches who would say the exact same thing about their church.

My point is this. You should give church a chance.

I know this sounds like salesmanship. “Here’s the product I’m selling and here are the reasons I think you should buy it…” Like i’m trying to sell you a body wrap, or a legging, or a business opportunity which IS NOT a pyramid scheme, except that it’s shaped like a pyramid and involves the people above you getting rich.

I’m not trying to sell anything. But after a day like yesterday, as I’m Q tipping whipped cream out of my ears, I keep thinking, “more people need to experience this!”

More people need to know what it’s like being a part of a community like this. That’s really what a church is – a community of people who love each other, worship together, help each other grow in faith and who lovingly serve the community. The good ones also have a ton of fun doing it. I happen to be biased about our church, because I think we have the absolute BEST people. But again, I could point you to a hundred churches filled with people who say the same about their church.

That’s my case for why you should go to church. I know that If I asked you to give your best reasons to NOT go to church, I’m sure you’d say something like this:

-We’re busy every Sunday.

-Church is boring, I was dragged to church EVERY Sunday for 18 years as a kid and was bored out of my mind.

-My church experience involves crabby people who are all about judging others, to make themselves feel more superior and spiritual.

-They’re always just asking for money.

-My church history involves nothing but guilt, ridicule and hurt.

-Church would never welcome me.

I hear all of those and on behalf of the church at-large, I’d like to apologize for judgment, arrogance, anger, ridicule, rejection and really REALLY boring church services.

I would propose that it’s not church you’re against, but rather lousy churches. I’m with you. The worst part about lousy churches is that it makes you think “this is what Jesus must be like – boring and judgmental”

The sermon at Homestead yesterday was from Luke chapter 4. This is the story of Jesus starting out his ministry. He’s just been baptized and spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted and tested. And now he’s ready to go. It’s like it’s His first day on the job. I like to imagine his mom making him a lunch and sending him off – “Have a great first day as Messiah, sweetie! Can’t wait to hear how it goes. Just be yourself and I KNOW you’ll do great!”

Jesus goes to the Synagogue and begins reading the words of the prophet Isaiah. (the book of Isaiah in our Old Testament)

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

This was Jesus’ opening message. This is our Savior letting everybody know what He’s all about – Good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, set the oppressed free, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

‘The year of the Lord’s favor’ is language commonly used in the Old Testament. It refers to The Year of Jubilee which happened every 50 years when all debts were cancelled, those in prison were set free, everyone was given a chance to start over.

That sounds pretty sweet. I imagine if attending church this Sunday also meant all debts and criminal records were cancelled, it would be standing room only in every church building everywhere.

And here Jesus is, first day on the job as Savior of Humanity, and THIS is His message:

“I’m here to give everyone a new start. Your past doesn’t matter. If you’re broken, poor, in bondage, it doesn’t matter. If you’re addicted, lonely, lost – it’s like the Year of Jubilee, only it’s happening all the time.”

So that’s why I think you should give church a chance. More than that, I think you should give faith in God a chance. With 100 percent certainty I believe opening your life to faith in God will bring good things.

If you pick a good church, you’ll be a part of a group of people who will become “your people” and you’ll be so glad they are. You’ll end more days happy because you spent it being a part of something bigger than yourself. You’ll feel a joy and a peace you didn’t feel before because you’re experiencing what Jesus spoke of that day in that synagogue two thousand years ago, which is the same message He’s still preaching today: It’s a new start. It’s freedom for captives, sight for the blind, forgiveness of past.

You’ll see God change your life, and change the lives and ETERNITIES of people so important to you and you’ll know there’s no other way you’d rather spend a single day.

Anyway, that’s why I think you should go to church.