Whoa. This is longer than I thought it would be.
When I joined my first church, Northlake Baptist, in September of 2001, I was 14 years old. As a 14 year old, it is pretty hard to step out and join a church by yourself. No one else blood related to me was a member. The weird thing is I can't remember ever being scared. Never Ever. The reason being, is because my church was my home away from home. They were like family to me. My faith family. I had "moms and dads" and "brothers and sisters" and even "grandparents" there. Always freely giving hugs, advice, and even correction when needed. I spent as much time as I could there. I felt a passion and a desire to go to church. I loved being able to show up and serve along side people I adored. I trusted them whole heartedly with my spirit and my well being. Still to this day there are SEVERAL people, whom I met at Northlake, that I know I could call at a drop of a hat and they would pray for me!
When I moved away to college, I was programmed to go an find a church home. Britny and I searched and visited multiple churches but never quite felt at home like we did at Northlake. As a last resort we visited First Baptist Denton. Right out of the gate we were greeted with warm smiles. Right after church we were invited to lunch with several of the other college students. Immediately, we felt like we had made friends and made a very easy transition to a new church home. I got plugged in as soon as I could. After about a year, I had prayerfully joined the college leadership team. The college ministry was really focused at discipleship and strengthening faith. There is a very large turnover rate in college groups due to everyone being from all over the state and sometimes country. With that comes new people. After about 2 1/2 years, I started feeling very secluded and judged for no apparent reason by people whom I considered my friends. The atmosphere of fellowship and discipleship started turning into an outreach numbers competition. Cliques were immediately formed and down went that family feel. I wasn't being encouraged by my peers. Politics and conservative beliefs were bleeding from the walls. I did not feel spurred on by my church.(Please know this does not include everyone from FBCD. There are several of you who are very near and dear to my heart!! I have tried to make it a point to tell those of you who are still so special to me.) Including the pastoral leadership.
I doubted my motives for leaving over and over and over. Was I being petty? Was I being selfish? Was I really trying to make new friends? I was becoming bitter. I was gossiping. I was beating myself up. My feelings about the church were hindering me from my relationship with Christ.
Ultimately, I kept coming back to this scripture:
Hebrews 12:1"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,"
I felt a conviction to step away from the church body and I did. I kept very near to the people who spurred me on and leaned heavily on my sweet sweet mentor Kay Trull. I started visiting The Village on occasion but never felt a draw to connect. I never felt unwelcome, but I did feel very small. The Village has THOUSANDS of members! Of course I felt small. My first faith family, Northlake, had 600 members attending regularly. One thing I learned from The Village, is how I needed to be fed as a Christian. I learned that I do not learn from or crave the same topical sermon with pieced together scripture taken completely out of context. I needed to be fed scripture in its raw form. I LOVE learning how to break scripture down in context and apply it to my life. Walk me through an entire book of the bible. Tell me how and why it was written. Tell me where else in scripture it references to. Leave the politics out of it and feed me the word!
Which brings us to the present. Connection Community Church in Rowlett, TX. FINALLY, a faith family that WE could worship and serve beside. After visiting one Sunday, Jonas and I both agreed we had found what would be our church home. We felt a huge desire to pray over this church and its leadership before we even moved back to Garland. They are solely based on the bible. They always point back to scripture. Every decision has a biblical grounding not a political point to make. We are whole heartedly fed by scripture. I am for the first time grasping.C3 is so incredibly welcoming. We immediately felt loved and wanted.( It helped a little that my bestie, Brianna Malone, told EVERYONE our life story before we even started coming regularly!) We officially joined this past Sunday and we CAN NOT wait to start serving! Not only did we join but our closest friends( Austin and Jennifer Aldrich, and the Trahan Clan ) joined as well! C3 is only 9 months old and we are so eager to impact our community. We are ready to live out scripture and do life together. We are already sooo very blessed by our faith family both spiritually and physically. We want to shout it from the roof tops and spread the love. I have never been more eager to invite people to church and not feel like the politics are shining through more than the sheer relationship of Jesus Christ.
We are so excited for this phase of our life and the new friendships and relationships that are ultimately going to further His Kingdom.