What I’ve learned as a church member…

What a hard role… being a youth pastor’s wife… or the wife of any church staffer. It’s challenging. It’s draining – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It’s lonely at times. It’s burdensome. It’s crazy. It’s a roller coaster. It’s never ending. It’s amazing. Although 4 years isn’t a long time… I feel like I have learned some things from being a youth pastor’s wife and a church member.

From my vantage point as a youth pastor’s wife, I see what all church members can and could do. I see the hurt and discouragement of the staff when parts of the body of Christ aren’t working properly because of _________ (fill in the blank). I see the potential. I see the amazing, wonderful thing a Church is and all the beauty that is in being a church member! A church is the richest (not the money way) community possible. A church member has a BELONGING, a place to go, a shoulder to cry on, a people to lean on, a family to turn to, a group that cries out in pray for you. It’s really great… if we make it great.

So… how do we make it great? How can church become something we love… instead of a duty? Think of the awesome ways we can IMPACT the world by just being a part of The Church. As church members, there are so many things we GET TO do… not HAVE TO do! We get to be the hands and feet of a Great God. We get to worship, work, live life, and be TOGETHER. Here’s my thoughts on what we GET TO do as church members… and what makes BELONGING so great!

SERVE – John 13.14 – Serving, foot-washing-worthy attitude… serving. We have the opportunity to serve individuals we regularly greet inside the church walls and scattered all over beyond. We have the opportunity to put our agendas, our preferences, our wants, our needs, and our opinions aside and SERVE. We get to bow low so our God is lifted high.

It’s not hard. It just takes the most precious thing you have – your TIME! The women’s group I’m involved with at church has been challenged to write letters to widows each month. I now have 5 precious ladies names/addresses I get to write to, encourage, and hopefully bless each month. That’s serving. It’s not hard… it just takes doing. SERVE someone. Serve the widows that sit on the back row. Serve your neighbor. Serve your enemy. Serve your pastor.

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ENCOURAGE – 1 Thess 5.11

IMG_3375 What a great gift we can give… ENCOURAGEMENT – EMpowering someone else with COURAGE!!! YES! As Christ’s mouthpiece here on earth, we get to speak LIFE to others. LIFE!!!! Wowzers! We can speak blessing over each other! We can speak to the beauty we see in the person sitting across from us in Sunday School. We can send a text to someone who is having it rough and just needs some love. We can go into the office across the hall at work, shut the door, and pray for our co-worker who desperately needs HOPE. We can build each other up – even when it’s awkward. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it hurts. We have to stop speaking death, bitterness, anger, unkind words, and gossip to the other members in our church. We have to stop hurting each other. The world is never going to see the love of Christ if we can’t love each other.

I challenge you to encourage your pastor and family. So often complaints, not-good-enoughs, and errors are echoed in the church office… not encouragement. Change the atmosphere… you can do it! Write a note to them. Take them to dinner. GIVE THEM A SMILE!!!! ANYTHING!!! Being a pastor doesn’t stop when they walk down from the pulpit… it’s a 24/7 burden of shepherding a people and pointing them to the Lord… hard work peeps! Give them a boost!

UNIFY – John 17.20-23

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Get this… Jesus’ prayed for us in the garden the night before he was crucified. He didn’t pray that we would have pretty church buildings with good children’s programs. He didn’t pray that we would be comfortable and have the best worship music. He prayed that we would be UNIFIED!!!! Are we unified? Heck… wait for it… no! We make divisions between us, The Church, over the silliest things – colors of carpet, the theme for the Christmas program, what to have for dinner… to the more serious stuff. But… we are called to better, to more, to unity.

We are called to put OTHERS FIRST. When we can learn to love others enough to put aside differences… it’s good.  If and when we understand that The Church should be focused on the same goal – loving Jesus and spreading His Gospel – then what else matters? We need to learn to get over ourselves, our labels, our stereotypes, our denominations, and our walls… and get UNIFIED! Yes… I know there are issues that can’t just be overlooked… and that’s fine. God is BIGGER than all that stuff. He can restore and reconcile! Believe Him.

LOVE – Romans 12.9-10

To love people in the church… and out of the church… that’s where the good stuff is. When I first became a youth pastor’s wife… I fell in love with a group of girls – pictured below. I have never loved a group of people like this before – I hurt when they hurt. I got so angry when they did stupid stuff (as all teenage girls do). I rejoiced when they rejoiced… and especially when they GOT IT. I loved seeing them each week and teaching them… and being taught by them. I cried when they went off to college.  Ya know… kinda momish.  BUT… loving these girls brought me more delight than anything else.

Pouring our lives out for others is what we were made for!! It makes us feel accomplished and completed… even though we are exhausted and depleted! It’s the greatest! That’s what love is about. We are to love each other – every church member… even the one who badmouths our family or wears weird clothes – sincerely and with everything we have. We are to love each other enough to bring them back to Jesus if they get sidetracked. We are to love them enough to remember when big things… and small things are happening in their lifes. We are to love each other enough to pray for the struggles… the REAL struggles. Love… it’s hard… and good.

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DREAM – Ephesians 3.20-21

IMG_0962I gotta write this verse out – Now to Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY more than all we ask or IMAGINE, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen! 

God allows us… even beckons us to dream. To ask what we deeply desire and imagine to become reality! Obviously you don’t have to be a church member to dream, BUT when we dream the dreams of our Father… TOGETHER… it’s that much more powerful! When we ask, and beg God to MOVE, to DO, to SHOW up… He does! When we dream and ACTUALLY BELIEVE He can… He responds in a way that’s beyond what we can even fathom. When He puts a good desire in our hearts (to serve a certain group, to adopt, to GO, to do something beyond our ability, to change…) – He only puts good desires there… the others are from self – HE IS ABLE! HE IS FAITHFUL!

Dream big! Expect from God – not in the way that you are testing Him or challenging Him or a “name it, claim it” mentality… but ASKING Him to do the “IMMEASURABLY MORE” in your life individually, in your church, in this nation, in this world. What would it look like if church bodies dreamed and imagined together? What would happen if we prayed, with the same vision in mind, that God would DO IT? What if we asked for salvations, for heart changes, for healing, for things to be provided, etc., and we truly BELIEVED He could do it?

Disclaimer – I’ve learned… that asking and imagining and believing is NOT always about the results. It’s not about whether He does it in the way WE imagined… it’s about being obedient. It’s about learning. It’s about KNOWING His heart and seeing Him work in His perfect way!

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EMPOWER – 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus

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We, as the church… and members of the church, have the amazing opportunity and calling to EMPOWER others. Paul did this with Timothy. Paul urged Timothy to keep going, to do more than He thought He could, to tackle the hard stuff, and to run hard after Jesus. As we grow older in our faith… it becomes our turn to empower others. The church should be a beautiful cycle – older teaching younger… younger modeling after older. But… we have it skewed. When the older are apathetic – arms crossed in church, glancing at their watch, NOT spending DAILY time with the Lord AT HOME, being one person in the church doors and another outside, putting other things way before the Lord, no passion behind their worship, etc. – why would the younger want to take part in that? When Jesus isn’t worthy of really LIVING for Him… what makes Church and a relationship with Him attractive? nothing. We have to be the examples. Paul didn’t sit around and tell Timothy what to do and what not to do while he was lounging around… not caring! NO! Paul wrote in chains from prison about the Gospel, he was beaten for his beliefs, and gave HIS LIFE for JESUS – and lived in a way that showed every bit of it was WORTH IT!

So, are we, as church members, empowering others to follow Jesus and strive hard for Him or are we stepping aside and let the world become the empowerment in the ones following behind us?

HAVE FUN – Psalm 150

HELLO PEOPLE – we have SALVATION. We, as children of God, are SAVED from hell! Of course we should be the people having the MOST FUN!!!!!!! We should have the most joy, hope, peace, and FUN! Many people don’t want to come to church because they think it’s boring… and a lot of times we make it boring and mundane! BUT… I do NOT think that it’s meant to be that way! The God we serve rained down fire from heaven, killed an army with bears, rescued a man from a lion’s den, made a dead man live, allowed a man in a chariot to ride into heaven, and will one day peel back the entire sky so that all will see His Son coming for His people! WE DO NOT SERVE A BORING GOD! Stop making Him look that way!

Smile a little. Dance a little (David did). Sing! Shout! Go crazy! Stop following the order of service a bit.

I don’t believe because God wants us to live pure and holy lives means that we have to be meek and quiet and sit there like bumps on a log! He calls us to rejoice! He saved us… WHY WOULD WE MOPE AROUND????? It’s okay to clap! It’s okay to hug each other and laugh! Seriously… I have the MOST fun when I am with other believers, living life with joy, laughter, and craziness!
IMG_2592So… let’s live as members of The Church should. Plug into a local church and dive in. Serve. Encourage. Unify. Love. Dream. Empower. Have fun!

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