This past weekend, I had two opportunities to hang out with members of the small church Devin and I are now attending. It was an experience unlike anything I have ever had. Which is sad, because feeling a family connection with the people in my church should not be a new experience for me, but it was.
Friday night we were invited over to the pastor's house (along with the other young married couples) for dinner and games. Prior to attending Family Bible Church, I have never attended an event at the pastor's house, let along received a personal invite from the pastor himself! I grew up in large churches and the pastor was someone I held in high reverence. I felt special if I happened to catch his eye as I pass him after services (which I can only remember happening maybe twice). It's not that my previous pastors were snobbish, they just had thousand and thousands of members in their congregation and didn't exactly have the capacity to engage personally in everyone's life. So they sort-of took on this "socially untouchable" status in my mind.
But here I was, not only having dinner at the pastor's house, but being personally sought out by he and his wife for conversation. Conversation that went so much deeper than, "How ya been?" I even played the pastor in a game of Hearts (and beat him, much to his good-humored chagrin).
Then, Sunday after church we were again invited to their house for lunch. Which is something they offer every Sunday to anyone interested. And yet again, we were engaged in open-hearted conversations with those in attendance. It was so different for me and I loved it.
I can not believe that I have experience church my whole life without ever having actually experienced Church the way is should be - believers connecting with each other, caring deeply about each others' needs and walk with the Lord and involving themselves in each others lives. For probably the first time in my life I understood what people mean when they talk about a "church family." Again, it's not that the previous churches I have attended have been rude or unwelcoming... there is just such a stalk difference between the connections I've seen/experienced at those large churches and what I am seeing, experiencing and growing to love so much about Family Bible Church.
God is so good to have brought me to this church. I smile and shake my head at myself when I remember how nervous and uncomfortable I was with the instant, welcoming acceptance I received when we first started attending. But, I suppose after 26 years of blending in with the crowd, being noticed and welcomed personally... by nearly every member of the church... was foreign and intimidating for me. However, the more and more I experience it, the more I love it and wonder how I ever survived without it.