Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#ChurchChatter Belonging to a Community - Laurryn P. McDaniel

BELONGING TO COMMUNITY


It’s hard to imagine what the last three and a half years of my life would have been like without the church.

That sounds weird, right? To many people, church is definitely important, but being a part of our church has been a defining point for my husband and for me. It has been so inherent in our daily life and we have been so blessed by our community of believers.

When my husband (then-fiance) and I made plans to move from Illinois to Southern Indiana, one of our professors recommended a church to us. He knew where we were currently attending and thought that the church in Indiana would be a good match for us. Matt visited one Sunday before I moved down and made plans with the associate/worship pastor, Carlos, for us to have lunch with him and his family. When we returned to the church after I moved down to Indiana, we were able to enjoy lunch following the service with Carlos, his wife Kristen, and their three children.

When I look back at that single, seemingly uneventful lunch, I realize how much of our future was shaped by that time with that family. Had we not made a connection with that family, I’m not sure that we would have become members and stayed involved. We have been positively touched by being a part of our local church for several reasons.

I met my best friends. When first moving to a new place, making friends is difficult and somewhat scary. Before I found a job, I made some great connections through church and had an immediate support network. Kristen was an amazing example of a godly and wonderful wife and mother, and I feel like being friends with her prepared me for motherhood in ways that nothing else could. My friend Sarah and I met for lunch downtown, where we both worked, and shared dreams of our future children (now realized – we each have our firstborn, at least!). When we had our daughter in May, our Sunday School class was instrumental in supporting and encouraging us during those first few crazy weeks. They brought us meals and gifts, prayed for us, and made it clear that they would do anything we needed. I often bother two friends, Jimmy and Jessica, with comic book questions and motherhood concerns (respectively!). These are people that I know I can count on to help in any way that they can. They are thinking of me, praying for me, and encouraging me constantly.

I got jobs. I found not one but two jobs as a result of being a part of our church. I worked as the Office Manager at our church for more than a year as I worked on a master’s degree. Following graduation, I was given the opportunity to stay home and take care of the daughter of two of my Sunday School classmates. I have been able to do that for the past year and have absolutely loved it. Admittedly, I don’t look at finding employment as an important part of belonging to a community, but it has been beneficial in that sense. Being a part of a church family enables one to network easily – a wide variety of ages, career backgrounds, college degrees, interests, and hobbies, all in one place!

I get to be involved. I love to do all kinds of things – sing, work with children, interact with people. The church is a wonderful outlet for me to get involved. I’ve been a part of the worship team and worked in children’s ministry at every church I’ve belonged to, and our current church is no exception. I also get to be the wedding facilitator and work on updating the church directory (I love weddings, and I love office work). Being a part of our church opens up all kinds of opportunities, for all kinds of interests. Enjoy fixing things up around the house? Be a part of the ministry that helps the widows who attend our church in repairing anything that may have broken at their homes. Love meeting new people? Become a greeter or an usher and help new people to feel welcome. Have a passion for cooking? Sign up to handle the food for any of the church events. For almost any interest, there’s a way to get involved and do something you love.

Most importantly, I get to fellowship with other believers. There is nothing like standing with a group of worshippers and singing praises to God together. It is literally a glimpse into heaven. There are moments during that time that every worry, every fear, every bit of heartache disappears and I have a quiet peace that can only come from God. I am standing with people who share the most core, most important beliefs and we are humbled before our Lord together. We have our moments of brokenness, we are imperfect, we are working our way through this life together. We share a hope and faith that can’t be explained with words yet we try. In John 10:10, Jesus says that he has “come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” When I am standing with my fellow believers, I am enjoying a moment during which I feel I am living life and living it abundantly.

I hope that every Christian finds a church into which they fit – I feel just at home in my church as I do in my own house. I feel a sense of belonging every time I am with my fellow believers. I know that I am truly blessed to belong to such a community and I am grateful to God for leading us to our church. It’s hard to imagine a better feeling than belonging to a community!



Laurryn is a member of Christ's Community Church of the Nazarene in southwest Indiana. She earned bachelor degrees in French and Criminal Justice from Olivet Nazarene University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Louisville. She and her husband Matt are enjoying the experience of being brand new parents. Check out TheMcDanielSpot.



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