get back in church... I needed Jesus, not church.
Stuff I Wish You'd Quit Saying

Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying – Get Back In Church…

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Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying – Get Back In Church…

Today, I had this on my list.  But I just couldn’t. I feel as though I have been nothing but honest with you… so I admit, I am struggling with church. As my manuscript closed and I sent it off to Harvest House I knew I would soon be exposed. I am an  excommunicated Mormon, a displaced Catholic, awkwardly worshipping at an instrumental Church of Christ (that means toe-taping.) In the course of the last 7 months, Jesus has shown up for “church” when I needed HIM more than ever.  I am most convicted, the checklist, or as my sister calls it “Spiritual Fit Bit” that I had deemed a necessity in my search for the Real Jesus was a man-made list of rules and regulations.  So as the emails and comments poured in with requests for this 31-day series I knew I was in no place to write this one.  I give you instead, my little sister, Stacey Todd. The original wizard of snark, she is without Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  In raw and candid form here is one mom of many and her 411 on, “Get Back In Church.”


I remember a particularly difficult time in my life when a sweet, well-meaning friend, tried to offer up her support and advice by telling me “you need to get back to church!” Uggg…I cannot tell you how that phrase makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong,  church can be great. I am not saying “don’t go to church”. Good things come from church. Fellowship, worship, communion, if you are Baptist, potlucks.

When I was on hospital bed rest with my 4th child, my church family was nothing short of amazing. Fueled by strong hormonal waves, worry, hospital food, and loneliness, tears would pour uncontrollably every time another member of my church would come visit me in the hospital, bring meals to my family, or run errands for me. It was truly the body of Christ at work, and I will never forget it.

So, flashback to the advice of my friend. She was right in that we had not been “in church”. My husband was living in Dallas, working, trying to start a new company. I was living in Houston at my parent’s home with our 4 kids in an attempt to save money. I was working from home, homeschooling, and trying minute by minute not to lose it completely. My husband would drive to Houston every weekend to see us. Our marriage was not in trouble; we were just apart, in transition. We were financially strapped. We were being faithful to what we believed God wanted us to do. But, it was hard. It was really tough to be away from each other, and not know when it would ever end. To top it off, we had just been through a very tough church split.

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The split took place in a church we loved, with people we adored. We had seen hypocrisy and ugliness. We had been hurt. It was like a bad break-up. And I wasn’t ready for a rebound relationship. My friend’s words, “you need to get back in church” stung.  Contrary to my friend’s advice, church is not what I needed in that moment. I needed Jesus. Period. And the good news is, I already had Him. I had just needed to call on my Father, ask for peace, comfort, guidance, and the gift of faith, where my faith was lacking.

I needed someone to remind me that He lives in me – the Anointed One lives in me. And I did not need to go to church looking for Him, nor do you. He is in you. Call to Him and He will answer. We have an extensive checklist as Christians. It is our modern Fit-Bit mentality; a spiritual Fit-Bit if you will. Quiet time, go to church, prayed for friend, worshiped, held hands high, partook in communion, paid my tithe, BUZZ….BUZZ….BUZZZZ…..10,000 spiritual steps completed! You are awesome! The satisfaction is great – but fleeting.

In Philippianss 3:8 Paul compares it to rubbish, which we would translate as trash, but the Greek translation (skubala) is actually for excrement, or dung. Poop.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of cthe surpassing worth of dknowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I ehave suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

stacey

Being “in church” so I appear like a “good Christian” to get closer to God (who lives in me, so how does that work?) is poop. My relationship with Him has nothing to do with me, what I am doing, or not doing, or where I am doing it. If I have accepted Him, I am complete, lacking nothing. If I feel lacking, it is not because I need church. It is because I need to remember who I am, who I belong to, and believe He loves me without condition. If you have a church you love, that brings you joy, where you love to see God’s people, sing with them, pray with them, and where your spirits mingle, then GO THERE, and GO OFTEN!

I am happy to say I have a church like that now. What a gift from God, what a tremendous blessing, one that I waited many, many years to experience! But, in the time I did not have this church, I stressed, worried and fretted.

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Why can’t we find a church?

What about my kids?

They have to learn all the Bible stories and little songs!

I can’t remember them all!

Father Abraham had many sons….I can’t remember the words!?!?

I was tormented by the lack of church home in my life and my kid’s lives. So, we tried them all.

The community Bible church where we watched the sermon on a giant TV screen and had no human interaction, the mega-church with 5,000 members that felt a little like a rock concert (especially with the police escorted parking.) The Lutheran church that had real cognac for communion wine (with no warning), causing my husband to spit it across the room. It was exhausting. Waking up early, dressing 4 little kids, going to a new church every week, filling out info cards, shaking hands, telling, and re-telling our story. Why I lived here and Dean lived there, why we lived with my parents, and when we hoped to be together again. Wow. Misery. And for what? What favor was I doing myself? My family? Or God for that matter?

I was missing the point.

When I looked at church as a box on my checklist it lost all its glory and purpose. It’s for me, not for Him. He doesn’t need me to go to church. He is fulfilled. He is not worried, mad, or turning His back on me when I sleep through the 8:00 service. I need to go to church to learn, be encouraged, prayed for, and pray with other believers. To believe He is made to do something because of my actions or which church I am attending is, well, laughable.

If you go there looking for Him, you can find Him there, but if you don’t go there looking for Him, you can find Him just the same.  Seek Him, and you will find Him. And He will lead you where you need to be. Oh, and for your sake, I hope He leads you to one with a great potluck.

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained, Stacey Todd

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Stacey and her husband Dean live on the same ranch with as Justin and me. Together they have four children. Jayden, Audrey, Emma, and Riley (a known vandal.) They are active in the homeschooling community with basketball, dance, and Classical Conversations. They love to cook and entertain friends and family and read my blog!  Thanks Space Case! You’re simply the best.  J

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened… Matthew 7:7-8

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16 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog, May God Bless you with the JOY of the Lord!!! You are a REAL Blessing to me Sister Friend 🙂 Thanks for sending me your love on Facebook yesterday!! On Facebook you know me as Shelly Cole, and on YouTube you know me as:
    KNOW WHAT MOM KNOWS

  2. Alicia says:

    Oh, how I love this. And! Oh, how familiar this is to me! We spent years as what I can only call, church nomads after the end of an amazing, life-giving church body. About 5 years. Visiting. Spending months of those Sunday mornings loading up our tribe, then realizing we weren’t willing to invest energy, time into taking the “next step” of church involvement: the small group/life group. So, on we’d go, either home for a season or on to the next potential church. Somewhere along the way, we came to understand that our tribe of “church” family…well, they were already there. They were spread out among many different churches throughout town. These families had become our family. We ladies gather for lunch during the week. Our kids knew each other as extra brothers and sisters. Our husbands “hang out” after bedtimes around campfires, & sometimes drink whiskey. And on Sunday mornings, we’d all go our separate ways. Turns out, we already had church.
    Now, a year plus in, we actually have ceased our wandering and planted our feet & hearts in a local church. It still feels new. It’s a struggle sometimes. Because I forget, it is not meant to fulfill me. It is not meant to serve me & meet my every relational & spiritual need. But, slowly, slowly, these new lovely folks? Well, they are becoming our tribe as well.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Perfectly told! ❤️

  3. Don McKelvie says:

    Love you both. Oh and great pictures as well.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      ❤️

  4. ” We have an extensive checklist as Christians. It is our modern Fit-Bit mentality”. Sadly, this is a very accurate description of the Church. It has been viewed as “activity” to check off on our list rather than the manifestation of Jesus “with skin on.” What you experienced during bedrest is the Church. It was literally the hands and feet of Christ-powered by the Holy Spirit. That’s life changing-for all of you. The beauty of finding your place in the church is to be a part of His body-whatever your spiritual gift is-ideally working together. But you are right-God does not stop being present in our lives when we are not “at church.” Thankfully, He cannot be reduced a box on a checklist.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Amen.

  5. YES!!! This is such a comfort to em, as my family and I have yet to find another church since ours closed over a year ago. I was deep into ministries at our old church and on the board of directors as well. The collapse and disintegration along with the anguish and anger that transpired left me injured, resentful, exhausted and lacking any desire to dive into another fellowship. I knew I needed a break. My kids were devastated too, and trying to find another church has been difficult for them as well as me and my husband. Change is HARD!

    Although we have visited many churches since, I am still not at peace about any of them for my family’s needs. I KNOW God wants us to find a church that is best for our family’s faith, and I trust it will happen. I feel a sense of urgency and guilt over not having a church home yet, and yes- my poor kiddos are in desperate need of it too.

    I’m so grateful I have my own women’s ministry I continue to run out of my home, and my teen ministry as well. But our family needs a church – and it will happen, someday. THANK YOU for this. There is a time and a season for everything.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Praying you find a home. ❤️

  6. I always smile when I read about people talking about large churches. I went to one in Atlanta once a couple of decades ago that had shuttlebuses from the parking lot, an manned information kiosk in the foyer, and an auditorium full of crookedly placed hooked together plastic chairs. I’ve been to churches that have a congregation of 10,000 and several services every Sunday, but their choir consisted of four professional paid singers and a full orchestra. I’ve also been to churches that could barely fit a dozen people inside, and Sunday School was in the same building. I’ve been to a 300th year anniversary of a church built in colonial times, and it was still a small rural church whose preacher and deacons played guitar, drums, sax, and organ for the music. I’ve been a member of a church that’s gone through change after change for decades and never felt the urge to move away no matter how annoyed I became with the membership. Then God decided I was needed somewhere else and in less than a week I walked out, brokenhearted and furious, and the next week found myself in a church I had last been to as a child. The people barely acknowledged us, the pastor was friendly, but there was not much to make us (myself and the sister I lived with and had always gone to church with, who had left for the same reason and same time I did) travel the rather far distance we did to go there again. Yet we did, feeling a compulsion so strong we could not deny it. I know well what it means to be placed under “unction”. We soon moved two houses away from the church and I have been there for two decades and spend a lot of my time and energy there. The church has been through many strained moments and got down to less than a dozen in the congregation, but it has come back and is now full every Sunday. Sometimes I wondered through the bad times if I should stay there and would ask God if I should search for a church that better fit my desires, but God always said “No” and directed me to stop thinking about how the church could satisfy me and instead think about how the church and I could help the world around us. I love going to my church. I love the social interaction, the fellowship, the potlucks, the missions. But it is a very small part of my relationship with God. Now I just ask God to work through me and give me words to say and actions to take, and thank Him for letting me be with people I enjoy. I have had times in my church life when I had to step out and retreat from all my duties there and sometimes miss services, once for several months, retreating inside myself until I felt I was in harmony with the Lord again. Never worry about whether you or anybody else should be in church. Seek His will and let Him direct you to where you are supposed to be.

    1. jami_amerine says:

      Perfect word. ❤️

  7. Julie Richmond says:

    I spent the first 44 years of my life without God. Through a life shattering crisis – I met Him at the church my mother was a member of, the church where I reluctantly went a few times a year to pacify my mother (but I heard & felt nothing).
    It’s been almost 13 years. My church is smallish by mega church standards – 600 or so. Just celebrated 40 years and our senior pastor of 40 years just stepped down and the associate pastor of 20 or so years accepted the position.
    I am taught, loved, encouraged, challenged and accountable in this church. I cannot hide – if I am not there I am missed.
    I have found that if I do not “feel like going, or feel His presence at church” it is a heart issue, not a church issue.

  8. Theresa says:

    So in order to find out how someone is an “excommunicated Mormon and a displaced Catholic” we must wait for your book? UGH! I love your blog and love everything you write but I am now amazingly curious about this testimony! So do you have a release date yet? THAT’S a story and possibly something worth having in the book shelf in case I meet another person in your shoes! 🙂 We moved in 2008 to an area with LOTS of churches but lacks solid teaching! We were spoiled by our old pastor and it was so hard feeling like we had to settle to just be in fellowship. We moved to a sub-burn in 2010 where everyone ‘goes into town’ to go to church. My dream and prayer is that someday there will be a good solid church within our sub-burb! For now, we travel about an hour each way to church. We are praying that God will send a solid pastor to our current location for us to come alongside! Until then, when people ask WHY we drive so far away for church………I have to tell them; God has never once called me to the convenient. Everything he has ever asked of me that bore spiritual fruit in our lives was crazy hard and incredibly inconvenient. It has become our new normal that I just expect the things worth doing are going to come at a cost. 🙂 Looking forward to your book!

    1. jami_amerine says:

      October 1, 2017… seems like forever away!

  9. Shelley says:

    Loved this!

  10. Glenna McKelvie says:

    Oh, how I love this! (And you both!) ❤️❤️❤️

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