Lately, I feel as if I have had to justify why I go to church. But wait — let me explain this farther. I haven’t had to explain why I go to any church, but instead, why I go to my church. My church is a typical church. It has a Saturday night and Sunday night service time for the convenience of its congregation. The pastors are a father and son duo. They work together to make sure that we learn not what we want the bible to say, but the actual truth of the Bible. The worship team is amazing and offers a wide variety of worship music in varying styles. They offer a popcorn snack on Saturday nights and donuts on Sunday morning. They do communion every single week. They don’t pass the plate but instead offer a donation box. The kid’s programs are amazing. My church also happens to be about a thirty-minute drive from my house.
That last fact is the one that everyone focuses on. I get asked why my family goes to a church thirty minutes away when there are many great options in our area. And there are. I mean no disrespect to any church in my area. There are fantastic churches with amazing congregations, right here in our backyard.
Let me back up just a bit. My family has been to three churches in 6 years. Yes, I know this dubs me as a “church hopper”. Before committing to a church, my husband and I tried several churches within our community. He and I both had things that were important to us in a service. He is not a fan of loud preachers, I like a variety of worship music. We found an amazing church that we loved. It was perfect for us at that time in our life. During that season, we grew, we thrived, and we chose to rededicate our lives to God. However, as our lives changed, so did our needs.
The second church we attended was amazing as well. At that time in our lives, it had everything we needed. My husband became a deacon, and we were involved in teaching the children classes. The kids had friends there, and we did as well. However, a comment from one of our children had us questioning if this is where we needed to be, and if we were able to find what they needed in our area. I will get to that more in a few minutes.
It was this revelation that had us expand our search in a church. We tried a church in a neighboring town, about 30 minutes away. We went several times, and while it was amazing, it wasn’t the right fit for us. A friend had been going to a new church for a couple of weeks and had mentioned it to me. We were signing our kid up for an extracurricular activity when I saw someone I had went to school with. It was apparent that she knew the people at the church where we were signing up and I asked her if that is where she attended. She told me no, that she had used to attend there, but she attended a different church now. It was the same church that my friend had mentioned to me.
My husband and I decided that we would give that church a try. Two mentions in one week seemed a good indicator to us that maybe it was something worth looking into. We decided to attend the next Sunday and haven’t looked back. A few weeks after we started, I invited a friend of mine to attend. We had been best friends in school but drifted apart after graduation. When I had her son in my classroom a couple of years back, we reconnected, and she had expressed her interest in going to church. She too has been attending since. Our friendship has reached a deeper level because of this.
So, that’s how we got here, but what’s the why? While the things I mentioned in the first part of this post is amazing about the church, it is not our why. What does this church have that the other churches in our area don’t? To sum it up on one word, the answer is diversity. Our area is predominately white. My family is predominately not. We have never and will never make a big deal out of our children’s race. It means absolutely nothing to us, and the amount of love we show them. WE don’t even see it. However, their race does mean something to them. They are at that age when they start comparing themselves to others. There were a couple of people who looked like them at their elementary school when they attended public school. There are a few people who look like them in our community. However, aside from maybe once a year, there was nobody who looked like them at our church.
We work with their biological grandmother so that they can maintain and have that connection. It is important to know where they come from. However, one day after church, our son asked me “Why there was nobody who looked like them at church?” I had never thought about it before because again, I don’t see race. However, to him, it was a valid question. I began looking at the role models they had in their life, and aside from their biological family, there was nobody who looked like them. It became very important to us that we provide them with strong Christian influences that looked like them. So, we must drive thirty minutes once a week to make that happen.
I don’t understand why the fact that we drive thirty minutes to church is an issue for others. It is our time, our car, and our resources making it happen. We ask nothing from no one, and we don’t say anything about churches in our area that would discourage those looking for a church from attending. I don’t see us driving thirty minutes to attend church as being a problem — except to those who chose to make it an issue.
I have seen/heard people say that we should bloom where we are planted. Here’s the thing about that expression. I wasn’t planted anywhere. We, as humans, are migratory by nature. If God wanted us to be stationary, he was fully capable of that. The Bible is full of humans migrating. When we look at Moses, Adam and Eve, Noah, Mary, and Joseph, even Jesus himself migrated. These are all examples of biblical people who migrated for a better life or a better situation.
Another thing wrong with the expression of “bloom where you are planted” is that not every bloom is planted in the right conditions, in the right environment. If I plant a flower in the wrong conditions, no matter how much I tell it to bloom, it won’t. The environment must be correct. If only that flower could move to a place where it could thrive, but it can’t. That’s why God didn’t make us stationary.
I have heard/seen people say that you shouldn’t drive to find the perfect church but should compromise to make your church perfect for you. I can compromise on a lot of things. One thing I should NEVER compromise on is my faith and the religious teachings of my children. If I feel truly passionate about a thing, I should not compromise on that. Not when that need can be met someplace else. What if Moses had compromised with God about the writing of the Ten Commandments? What if he had compromised with the Pharaoh and said, “Well, what if you let half of them go, and you can keep the other half?”. Compromising when it comes to faith is giving yourself a watered-down experience.
I have heard many times that the church is a hospital for sinners. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I need medical care, and the hospital near me doesn’t have what I need to get better, then I will drive to a hospital that does. If I would be willing to do that for my physical health, why wouldn’t I do that for my spiritual health? It is more important than my physical health, as it determines my eternity.
So, why do I drive 30 minutes to attend a church, when there several great options that are within my area. Well, it’s simple. The spiritual well being of my family and myself are worth that thirty-minute drive. It is worth an hour’s drive, a five-hour drive. If Moses and the Israelites can wander a desert for 40 years, what’s thirty minutes once a week?