Early in our marriage, Eric and I had some church woes. In the beginning, I went with him to the church he had been attending, but I never felt like it was a solid fit for us. After several years, we decided to leave and look for a church that fit us better, both theologically and socially.
Having grown up in the same church my entire life, I had no idea how difficult it can be to find a church body which feels like home. We visited several places; and, while we liked certain aspects of some, there were others which we could not get past.
All my life, I heard negative comments about church hoppers, so I did not want the reputation of a self-centered Christian in search of the “perfect” church. Neither Eric nor I were looking for perfect. We were just looking for a place which felt like home.
Are We There Yet?!?!
After a few years of searching, I thought we had found the one. In fact, I remember thinking one Sunday, “Maybe we finally found it! I think this can be home.” And, that very afternoon on the way home from church Eric said, “I want to try Old Forest Road Baptist Church.” My attitude was not super great about it. Here, we had finally found a place where I thought I could fit and thrive, and Eric wanted to uproot me to try… yet another church?
During our internship, we worked with a few couples who made an impression on us. We were amazed at their maturity, their theological understanding, and their God-centered relationships. Three of these couples attended Old Forest Road Baptist Church, and Eric figured if it was turning out such quality individuals, it may be where our search could end. Not only did these couples attend this church, but they spoke highly of it often.
Yes, It Looks Like We Made It!
So, the next Sunday, we were in attendance at Old Forest Road Baptist Church (which has since been changed to Redeeming Grace Baptist Church [RGBC]). And, after that first Sunday, we never looked back.
We started attending RGBC right around the time I resigned from my full-time job and came home to work for PreEngaged. Providentially, the women’s ministries put on a Bible study that Fall about marriage and becoming a Godlier wife. God knows me! He knew I could have talked myself out of a Bible study on almost anything else, but I simply could not resist studying marriage!
At the Bible study, I met several wonderful ladies who became friends. Shortly after, Eric and I became part of a small group which made us feel more connected to the body. And, since then we have witnessed and experienced how important it is to have a close church family. When we have needed prayer for health issues, they have been there. When others have expressed needs, the church has rallied together to help. When women have babies, the other women quickly rush in with meals and support. It is such a blessing to have these people in our lives and to have the ability to be a blessing to them.
Should Church Be Family?
My home church consisted of my actual family (e.g., aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc.) and also people I considered family. Because I attended the same church for almost twenty years, I was uncomfortable with the idea of finding my place within a new family. I did not realize how important it was to cultivate church relationships because they had been handed to me all my life. Eric wanted us to have that church family experience here in Lynchburg, but I was leery of the emotional work and the pain which might come from putting myself out there.
In retrospect, though I hate to admit it, Eric was right. We did need that support. My only regret is that we did not have it in the early days of our marriage. It is such a blessing to belong to a church that looks out for each other, prays for each other, and truly loves each other. I am thankful my husband insisted we find a church that not only preaches God’s Word faithfully, but one that treats its members as family.
When we expressed interest in joining RGBC, an elder and deacon came by to talk to us. One question that struck us both was this, “If the pastor were to resign, would you stay with the church, or would you leave?” What he was asking is if we were dedicated to the people or if we were dedicated to the pastor. Hearing that question helped us understand the kind of congregation we were joining – a loving family of believers who are committed to each other, not just to the pastor.
A Hearty Plea
Young couples out there, please do not neglect the role of the church body in your relationship. You may feel like you do not need anybody but each other, but I am here to tell you, you really do. I tried so hard to hide, but once I finally came out of my shell and got to know people, I realized how desperately I – we – needed those relationships.
A good, solid, Bible-teaching, supportive church is priceless. If you have it, do not take it for granted. If you do not have it, ask the Lord to lead you and go find it. Maybe you have been hurt in church. Maybe you feel like you are just too busy. Whatever the reason you may be resisting, I plead with you to continue searching for that special group of people.
Now that we have found where we belong, the search was worth every minute. We are so thankful to God for a Bible-preaching pastor who is not afraid to speak the truth, and a welcoming congregation who is committed to Christ and each other.
Are you and your sweetie currently attending a supportive, Bible-preaching church?