I’ll never forget the church I considered my church when I was growing up.
Fallbrook First Baptist Church, in Fallbrook, California… land of the avocado groves.
We went to several churches over the first 18 years of my life, but it’s the one where my memories and faith were solidified.
It’s the church where I hid in the baptismal, peering up over the edge during prayer time, my friend and I holding our breath when the door accidentally locked behind us and we were forced to spend the entire service with our backs pressed flat against the sticky vinyl of the tub.
It’s the church where my initials and a friend’s are carved in the side panel along the balcony, where his paper airplanes may still be wedged into the recessed lighting panels.
It’s the church where we gathered paint buckets and adventured our way across the border towards Mexico, fixing houses and sipping sweet coke from real glass bottles while smacking Chiclets gum.
Where we sang “Friends are Friends Forever” and “Go West Young Man” as we piled into large vans, with our teams of VBS kids headed for Sea World.
It’s also the church where I felt most connected.
Where my youth pastor Chris Brown, probably 5 years our senior, made a relationship with Christ look like something I wanted.
It’s where we held the memorial and wept when Justin, a close friend, died and we were just sixteen and for the first time I longed for Heaven.
It’s where I first started really reading my Bible, where I first started telling others about my faith in Jesus.
It’s where Jim Trail, our other youth pastor, bought a house across the street from our high school, so we could meet for morning prayer and then slip through his back fence, making it to class just before the first bell rang.
It’s the place where church became a family and all those names in the picture I drew above were really–
God’s Church in my life.
For the past 17 years my husband and I have been at the same church here in Oregon.
All but 6 months of our marriage has grown in the rich, healthy soil of this local church family.
Our first parenting conference was within the walls of this church and I remember that day well because it was the day we learned we were expecting our first child.
Now, 17 years later we’ve added five children to our family.
And our church family has journeyed with us down the road of adoption.
They’ve wept with us through the loss of a child.
Her ashes are buried under a tree that flowers each spring on the church property.
It’s where we have surrogate “aunts” and “uncles” who truly pray for our children, where friendships are vulnerable and long-suffering through struggles.
There has been accountability and love and discipleship and it’s where our own children now are–
We’ve stood before our church family and have dedicated each child, giving our promises as parents.
Also receiving promises from them to partner with us as we prayerfully try to raise these little ones to know and love and follow their Heavenly Father wholeheartedly.
Dr. Jim Kimmel writes:
“The goal of a church’s family ministry is to connect to the heart of each individual family leader in such a way that it better prepares parents to develop a heart connection to their kids that subsequently inclines those kids towards a deeper love for the Lord and kindness toward others.”
I’ve thought about it a lot–
The powerful relationship that can exist between a church and a home.
And I’m so thankful for the way God has used His church in our lives…
I pray you will experience this as well.
“If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.”