Phases of Our Church Life
February 09, 2023
Attending church is quite the adventure, and I think it can look very different from season to season.
By that I mean this:
Sometimes you have a season of attending a particular church. You're there because God wants you to learn a particular thing. And then when he wants to do something different, he moves you on to a new church.
In some seasons you are fed by the church, while in other seasons you're the one doing the feeding.
So I thought today I might share a little about the different seasons I've had in church.
Season One: Spectator
As a new Christian I started out attending a Bible church of 200 people. I would walk in, listen to the sermon, then walk out. I sat there and watched the body of Christ as a spectator. But the sermons fed me. Did God ever want me in that church? For that season, I think so. I heard the Gospel in that church.
Season Two: Nurtured
Quite soon after that, God seemed to show where he wanted me to attend. This new church was different in flavor. It was charismatic, and a little wild. It had 50-70 people, some of whom were homeless, and a culture of praying for each other.
I had never been in a charismatic church before. It fascinated me. And in that first service when they asked 'who needs prayer?', my hand shot up. After that, I was nurtured by that church's people week after week. I brought all my pain about my spiritual mismatch into that church and was prayed for like crazy. I was the broken and bruised one who was bandaged up and loved.
In that same church, I began to grow up. The pastor discipled me, others discipled me, and I grew ... into something sturdy.
Suddenly I wasn't the one wanting prayer all the time; I was praying for others.
Eventually I was prayed into the leadership team by that very same pastor who'd discipled me. Here I am on the far right of this photo, August 2019. The pastor is the guy in green.
Season four: Quiet support
Well, the above church suddenly closed, and we disbanded! Quite simply, the pastor felt we were to close, so we did, and we all got thrust into new churches. For my part, instantly God showed me a new church to attend. My son, Miles (age 16), miraculously began attending with me, and here's a photo of us on Mother's Day. Can you see my smile at having my handsome boy by my side?
The adventures continued: That church then moved into the school hall where my old church had just closed!!
My place in this new church felt different to the above phases. For a start, the church was primarily young people and, I'll be honest, I've been lonely there.
How do we deal with loneliness at church? Well in this case I've laid it aside and persevered because I have known that God wants me at this church.
See, since joining that church I've had prophetic words about God's purpose for it. I have had a burning in my heart to see it succeed. I have prayed like crazy for it. And that's why I've labelled this season 'Quiet support'.
That church experienced a huge crisis in May last year, which nearly derailed it. The pastor left suddenly in fractious circumstances, and we had no elders in place. So, in this uncertain situation I volunteered to work on a task-force with four others to research the topic of elders and figure out how to put elders in place. That was six months of hard work.
Finally, at the end of last year I stepped into leading the prayer team at this church, and in December had the joy of praying in a brand-new team of lay elders. That's me on the far right of the photo, in the very same hall as the first photo in season three above!
We're still waiting for a pastor, but our church is in good health.
So, what a ride. It has certainly not been a stagnant journey. We learn different things from church ... And then we give. But one thing I know: This present church is my church family.
Hope you like those stories. Have you been through phases in your church life?
Loads of love,