I Quit Going to Church

Dear Church,   I try to use this space to regularly remind us that being Christian is not primarily about “going to church” (although, gathering for worship on a regular basis as the people of God has an important formational value in our lives); instead it’s about “being the church” – living out what it means to be the people of God in the world.   Monday night I returned, along with 36 other GCers, from a 12-day adventure to Rwanda – and what an adventure it was! While there we did two simultaneous Vacation Bible Schools (loosely so called), worshiped with our Rwandan brothers and sisters, attended a Rwandan wedding, installed a ceiling and helped paint the interior in a church building, observed in a medical clinic, played with scores of impoverished Rwandan children, ate awesome Rwandan food, heard the gut-wrenching story of the Rwandan genocide, saw the awe-inspiring evidence of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation on a personal and national scale, rode in busses (a LOT!!!!), went on a safari, studied God’s word and prayed together, played volleyball, preached twice, sang as a GC/Rwandan mixed choir twice, met the staff and ladies of a ministry that provides sewing work for ladies who are hearing-impaired (GC purchased 16 new sewing machines for them and we got to receive their deep, heart-felt, sincere appreciation), etc., etc., etc.   But, as a pastor, one of the coolest things for me was to hear something I’ve heard on nearly every trip I’ve been on with teams from GC. Here’s a loose paraphrase, “Your team is so easy! Many teams are difficult. They bicker and complain and get homesick and cry. But your team gets along, they’re happy, they’re helpful – they’re easy!”   That’s our goal! To be “easy!” To be the loving hands and feet of Jesus! To have attitudes that reflect the attitude of Christ wherever we go in the world!!!   Thank you so very much, Rwandan Work and Witness Team (and all the mission trip teams from GC to date), for being easy – for “being the church!”   Grateful and appropriately proud,   Joel