When God Makes You Eat Your Words about Church

by Mary

DSC_0096

 

I’m a Seattle girl, born and bred. I didn’t meet Jesus, didn’t even really know much about Him until I was fifteen and the Young Life leader kept telling stories about this man named Jesus who stilled the waves and stooped to help the hurting. I fell in love with Him then.

The leader told me I needed to find a church, so I did. A little Presbyterian country church I loved to pieces. I ventured there alone, my father deceased, my stepfather now moved on, and my mom not interested in attending.

We moved, and I made the search for another small church. I found another country church with good folks and strong convictions. We took communion every Sunday.

In college I attended a charismatic church with hands-to-the-ceiling worship. God used the people in that church to heal so many broken parts of me. They dared to believe God would restore the mess from the past back to glory. I met my husband there. Again, this was a small church.

We planted a church on our next move, but the church unplanted us (a long, boring story). We settled into a medium sized charismatic church that blessed us. We formed lasting friendships there and started raising our family within its walls.

We moved again and found a community church near home and met some of the most fabulous people we’ve ever met as a couple. Ties continue to this day.

All these venturings happened in Washington state. Then we did our first cross cultural move to Palestine. Not the Palestine you’re thinking though, Palestine, Texas. We helped a new church there get its feet under it, then moved again to the Dallas area so my husband could attend seminary. The first church we found imitated all the others: relatively small, community centric, great folks. But we sensed a change in the air, and God led us elsewhere.

I’d always said when we moved to Texas that:

  1. I would not attend a Southern Baptist Church
  2. I would certainly not attend a megachurch.

Be careful what you tell the Almighty.

It’s not that I had anything against the SBC, it’s that it was wholly foreign to me, as a girl who met Jesus in a secular culture and didn’t usually settle in a denomination. And as far as megachurches went, I was biased. I didn’t see how a big church could help folks on the micro level. I wanted community, and a big church, in my mind, didn’t mean that.

Enter Lakepointe Church. The sanctuary dwarfed me. I felt little. I enjoyed the worship and the teaching, but its immensity scared me. And lo and behold, its roots were SBC. Was this some kind of cosmic joke? Did God in heaven laugh when I told him my church parameters?

We’ve been at this church over a decade now. I wouldn’t trade it. We were one of the first missionaries the church sent out that weren’t from the IMB (International Mission Board). Had Lakepointe not been involved in our France journey, I doubt we would’ve weathered that time as well as we did. They supported us, sent teams, prayed for us, sent care packages, and prayed some more. They offered real-time assistance when everything blew up. They were the church to us in every possible way. I fell in love with Lakepointe with a fond affection when we were at our most vulnerable.

And when we came home, they took care of us, counseled us, helped us get on our feet. We have the privilege now of leading a church within a church (Life Group) that is larger than the church we planted in France. It’s our community, our smaller place where we love people who are broken like us.

I’m so thankful God didn’t take my anti-SBC-megachurch declarations to heart. I’m thankful He pushed me to consider something other than the smaller box I put Him in. I’m happy to say I adore my church, thank God for my church, and count my children’s spiritual growth as a beautiful benefit of attending it.

Q4U: How did God lead you to your current church? What can you praise about it?

Mary DeMuth writes about life and more life at her website maryedemuth.com. She writes a LOT of books.

 

 

23 Responses to “When God Makes You Eat Your Words about Church”

  1. Patricia (Pollywog Creek) January 31, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    I love this post, Mary. Despite all the churches’ faults and differences, I’ve grown more in love with The Church as the Body of Christ over the past 10 years than ever before. In our 37 year marriage, we have actively attended 4 churches, changing churches only when we moved from one city to another – with one exception. The first 3 churches were in the same denomination both of us were raised. Over the years, we grew away from that denomination’s doctrinal beliefs, and about 10 years ago, we concluded that we could no longer in good conscience support them with our tithes. Rather than be divisive, we resigned from our leadership positions and looked for another church. We live in a very small community where it’s common for people to change churches often. Rather than participating in that practice, we choose to look for a church in the city about an hour away. We intended to visit several different churches and denominations before deciding where we should attend, but we settled into the first church we visited and we are still there. We dearly love the people in the church we left, as well as those in the other churches in our little community. We are grateful that God has provided many opportunities for us to continue to work with them in various community projects and ministries while we sit under the teachings of a church we can wholeheartedly support. We, too, lead a lifegroup within that church, whose vision is simply to make disciples who will love and live like Jesus.

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      I love the tenderness in the way you switched churches and your high regard for it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Amber Haines January 31, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    It was brokenness that drew us to New Heights and brokenness that keeps us there. We’re happy with it only once in a while, but we LOVE it, love it so much.

    I am not afraid to say that I struggle with this family. I don’t always agree with the way things work, but it’s iron all over the place, sharpening iron. Sunday morning is maybe a 10th of what we get out of and put into New Heights. They’re in our lives, and like all the sisters and brothers you can’t help who you’re born to. I wouldn’t trade them for a messier or tidier bunch.

    I’m so grateful to be loved by them. It blows my mind.

    • Amber Haines January 31, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      Also, Mary, thank you for this.

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      I hear you. Every church has its issues (it’s full of people like us). But love and relationships trump that. We’re a broken lot, in need of so much love.

  3. Jon Stallings January 31, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Great post as usual Mary. Seems like every time we make the statement “I never will ….” God seems to respond, “Oh really, we will see about that.” I learned that one the hard way a long time ago. But in the end, I am glad His ways are higher.

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      You have to be careful with those never statements! :)

  4. Deborah January 31, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    We’ve left two churches; one after 13 years, one after 11 years….clearly not on a whim! We loved the church/the people, and most of the doctrine, and tried to overlook the things we disagreed with… but unfortunately both churches had controlling pastors, and we finally got to the place where we couldn’t stand by and watch people be used and abused. So, while I have no desire to church bash, I think it’s important to acknowledge that not every church is healthy, and that many of the members don’t see any alternative…leaving costs too much. They’ve never really experienced “Life Unchained”! And someone needs to reach out to them.

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      I so agree. So much so that I wrote a post about spiritually abusive churches and ministries here: http://www.marydemuth.com/2011/09/spiritual-abuse-10-ways-to-spot-it/

      This post is meant to be a correction of the pile of negativity I’ve seen about the church in general. I wanted to cheerlead what is good. :)

      • Deborah January 31, 2013 at 9:43 am #

        Oh yes, I understand that. I prefer be positive and encouraging in my posts, and writing about abuses isn’t something I ever wanted to do. I’ve read your post on spiritual abuse before and appreciated it. Thank you!

  5. Hallie Darphin January 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Mary,
    It was as if you were writing to me as I read this. I grew up with an aversion to the SBC because of denominational differences and a few negative experiences, but through only God I ended up at a college partially funded by the SBC. Huge multi-site churches have always made me skeptical, and again I found my college church home at a small campus of a huge-multi site church, pastor on the TV screens and all. God has done incredible things over the past four years of college to soften my heart to the things that He never said they should be hardened to. It’s been extremely humbling (to my prideful self) to have to recant many of my early college statements as I’ve learned to worship the Jesus that the Church loves not the church that loves Jesus. Thank you for writing.
    Hallie

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story. We seem to be in the same baptist boat!

  6. Abby Norman January 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I call myself an “accidental baptist.” Had I known, we would not have gone. I have so much baggage with that denomination. But my church loves Jesus and my city desperately, and it love me well too. So I suppose I will stay.

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      That they love is what matters most.

  7. Jeremy Buzzard January 31, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    I can soooo relate to this Mary. God has His own plan about where He wants me and I’ve almost completely conceded to follow it! (I stay put when He says stay, and go when He says go, but it always seems to be on His timeline, not mine!) :)

    • Mary January 31, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      That’s a restful place to be. But sometimes it takes a while to get there.

  8. Deanna Wiseburn February 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    The warning about never statements comes, of course after I made my own…I know God has a sense of humor, but I honestly hope that my never statement, does not end like yours. :)

    As for my church….I lacked discipline in getting up early enough to attend church, at the time I had been used to working third shift, stayed up late, and slept until late. Saw an ad in the newspaper talking about a church in town that was going to start offering 3 services, the last one being a 12:30 service. It was also a non-traditional church and did not have the traditional music that I heard growing up.

    I was out of excuses, visited, it was so different (I had never been to a contemporary service, and at the time didn’t listen to Christian music.) Being the first time at the late service, there were few people there other than people who had been there all along, I was the only new face. I was embraced, hugged on by strangers (having not been raised in church, or an affectionate family) I was not used to that at all. Everyone talked to me, welcomed me and basically loved me. Then receiving a letter from the Pastor after my visit, I felt like I had to visit again. This led to regular attendance from 2006-2010. Left the church in 2010 for issues I was having where I wasn’t seeing things as they really were. Only recently went back in October 2012, off and on until December when I started going regularly.

    • Mary February 2, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Thanks for sharing your story, and for taking a risk on a church that didn’t seem to fit at first.

  9. Breoni February 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! Much like you, I grew up in WA state, didn’t go to church until I was fifteen (and by myself), and then moved to TX, where I also battled the same stereotypes involving churches. I guess I felt sort of intimidated by them. I don’t think I’m quite at the place you’ve reached yet, but your story has encouraged me to look at the subject in a different light. Thank you!

    • Mary February 9, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Wow, it’s nice to meet my long lost twin!!! I’m glad the post blessed you.

  10. SM March 6, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I was really against the church God led me to, initially. Honestly, I was drugged up when I agreed to go to church with a friend. (nothing illegal, just bad medication). I was so conservative and defensive and broken, all I wanted was to stay in a place where I could show up, be told I was a sinner and leave without having to say a single word or let anyone know how much pain I was in or how much I hated God.

    I still had that attitude after being converted, but, when the time was right, He lead me there the way He knew He could. I remember before I took the medication having a feeling that taking these would not work out well, but that it was God’s will anyway. So I did. And God made use of my innate inability to break a promise.

    I kept hating this church, where people socialised freely, the preacher was kind and approachable and the only person in the room who was stern and stoic was me. But God kept leading me back. He met me there in a way I wasn’t used to felling very often, and suddenly I was getting so much of God so frequently, because this was where He chose to meet me.

    He uses that place to chip away at the hard parts of my heart and work on the broken, self-isolating parts. I can actually cry in front of these people. Despite my family’s rejection of me for going there, I have peace with that, because I know it’s God’s will and those people, they’re my new family. Closer than my natural family ever were.

    It was/is a long, painful process. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. Let's Church Bless, not Church Bash - Mary DeMuth - January 31, 2013

    [...] Today I’ve posted over at Deeper Church, exposing my own naive views on the church, and my judgmental ways. And as I traced my church journey from the moment I met Jesus to today, I realized God had a plan all along, and that He knew best how to place me in His body. [...]

  2. speaking of church - February 2, 2013

    [...] Mary DeMuth on “When God Makes you Eat your Words about Church” [...]

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image