Today at 6 am, while many were either sleeping or loading up on carbs for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, I was loading on the other Sunday marathon I do every week. It's called church hopping which is getting up and attending one early morning Sunday service, only to turn around, regroup, and then do a whole other stretch of studying, praising, and worshipping at a different church.
My husband and I are members of a New Life Covenant-Southeast, a very popular church that just so happens to be conveniently located in walking distance from us, but the church itself has about 18k members from all over the city. Membership is so huge, and Pastor Hannah is so popular, that we have four different services during the day on Sunday. I mean the Praise Team can sing down heaven and Pastor Hannah can preach you right into the Holy of Holies. We absolutely L-0-V-E this church! However, when that service is over, we go home and get our four daughters and then prepare for our second church experience at the Salvation Army Kroc Church. Now the Kroc Center is an entirely different experience. Membership pales in comparison to New Life, and so does the singing; however, the sweetness and pureness of the members and Corps leaders just makes you feel special and loved.
What I love most about the Kroc Center is that it's unpretentious. The people make you feel recognized, appreciated, counted, and important. While New Life does a lot to make people feel special--there's the friendly usher who walks around with her overflowing candy basket, and then there are the five greeters you HAVE TO hug before you can get into the church to grab a seat--yes, they do a lot to make people feel special, but I honestly don't think anyone would even know the difference if I never showed up again. I'm just not a part of the "in crowd" and neither do I want to be. But I must say, I do want to feel a part of my congregation in such a way that I would be missed, and that's just not going to happen at New Life.
And even beyond that, I want my daughters to feel loved and appreciated, and I want my daughters to learn about God, not just sit there and experience church like they're at a concert or movie. I want their hearts and consciences pricked so that they learn right and wrong by developing their inner guidance system, which is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And this is something that must be taught; something that must be cultivated and it only comes by them having an actual encounter with The Man of The Hour.
I've attended different churches all my life. From the famous Apostolic Church of God in Christ with the late Bishop Brazier in the Woodlawn area, to having been married by President Obama's former pastor Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright (before the fall out) at Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago. And then there were the diverse churches I've attended with brothers and sisters and Christ from all over the world, to a church I once attended on the West side where a 20-lb plus-sized woman almost slayed me from her becoming slain in the Spirit as they say. I've pretty much seen and done it all. I love God so I follow where He leads, and in all this church hopping, I've learned that it's about relationship and not religion. I'm at a place in my life where I want my relationship to be much more than just a Sunday morning experience. I want to experience the fullness and measure of God in His entirety which means I end up doing some hopping because when the Spirit says "Go," I do.
The place I'm in right now spiritually does not lend to a simple, mere pew experience. In the words of author Tommy Tenney, I am a "God Chaser" and actually, pretty glad about it. This often leads to scrutiny and definitely keeps one outside of a comfort zone. And like the actual marathon, requires that I keep going long after others have sat down somewhere, or never end signed up for the race in the first place.
Right now, I have no right or wrong answer regarding our membership. I'm grateful that we can go to different places to worship and fellowship with others. It's just that going two different services followed by family gatherings and responsibilities means every Sunday I'm doing my own personal Chicago marathon. At the end of the day, I'm churched out--but prayed up! Next week, the marathon continues. I will just keep running this race with endurance.
I'm a wife, mom of six daughters with the youngest being twin 4-yr olds, and fitness instructor, which should have me exhausted by default. But, I press on to win the prize God has for me by inspiring and motivating others to live "In FITNESS and In Health." If you'd like to receive these messages daily, fill out the Email Subscription box. It's free and there's no Spam.
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inspired as you prosper and be in good health!
This year, I also won $1,000 for losing 10 pounds as part of the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge Project 10 initiative which gives 30 meals for a child in need, and rewards 10 Vi Challengers $1,000 each every Monday, and you can win too!