I Quit Going to Church

Dear Church, We received six new members at GC this past Sunday and three of them were … teenagers! I’m so thankful for the ministry we have among kids and teens around here. And I’m thankful for moms and dads that faithfully pass on “the faith” to their children. It’s always so cool to see teens who are heart-deep in following Christ and in the life of His church and who want to officially lock arms with the larger church body through church membership. Church membership doesn’t make you a Christian or get you any brownie points with God, but it can be a good step of commitment and accountability (which we all need). I always ask those who are becoming members to briefly write out their testimony. Here are the ones I received from these three teens: I grew up in a Christian family who taught me to love God and put Him first. When I was five years old I wanted to ask God into my heart and live a life to serve Him. I got baptized when I was 6 by my uncle. I don’t remember a specific time when I became a Christian, but I grew up in church and I have always loved Jesus. I have always had a strong faith and I try to live that out every day. When I was about six or seven, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. But, up until now, it has not felt very veracious or authentic. I still felt hollow and ignorant of who I should be as a Christian, and I was not sure how to be a good, loving Nazarene. But, earlier this year, one of my friends told me he had just started going to a new church and said how fulfilling and authentic it felt to be part of a Christian fellowship. I told him I was a Christian too, and soon after that, we started discussing our faith and certain topics in the Bible. And now both of us are bringing our Bibles to school every day and discussing with each other certain topics and sharing good verses we found. And, over the past few weeks our discussions have helped deepen my faith and understanding in the Lord. And now, because of that, I have wanted to become a member of Grace Community Church of the Nazarene. And now, my faith feels very authentic and true to Christian teachings from the Bible. Ok, I confess, none of these are like my own testimony. Unfortunately, I got WAAAAY off the path and Jesus, the relentlessly Good Shepherd who doesn’t give up on “lost sheep” found and rescued me. And, though sometimes we exalt the more dramatic rescue stories around the church (and certainly we should celebrate all rescue stories), these are the kinds of stories I pray our kids and teens will have – to give their lives to Jesus and know nothing other than a faithful and growing (though imperfect) following after Him. Others have said, and I agree, our teens and kids are not the church of tomorrow; they are an essential and vital part of the church of today!!!! They help us learn and express what it looks like to “be the church.”   Grateful (while growing old), Joel