Father forgive me, but there’s a good chance my bubble gum is still stuck underneath a pew in East Peoria, IL.
Our church had pews and no such thing as “children’s church.” That meant I spent the better part of an hour every Sunday for the first five years of my life under a pew. When I learned to count, I would spend the hour counting the number of wooden beams and tiles on the ceiling.
I also got removed from a Sunday School and was forced to sit with my parents in their class.
That was a long time ago but I remember it like it was yesterday.
I have other memories I have tried to forget. For some reason, the forgetting actually gets easier with age.
I have never served a perfect church, usually the result of the church being served by an imperfect pastor (it was my fault!). Even with a few less than stellar memories, I am still a big believer in the church.
The church is comprised of God’s people. That doesn’t automatically make us godly. It should help, and often does. I have been challenged, encouraged, and inspired to not settle all because I have been in church.
The church is the hands and feet of Jesus. I have seen the church serve the needy, feed the poor, and care for the orphan all in the name of Jesus.
The church is a support network. It is easy for people in our society to fall through the cracks. Many suffer through a death or divorce in silence. But when the church is acting like God’s community, support arrives.
Simply put, I love the church. I am as excited about the church today as I was as a teenager or young pastor.
Lest you forget, Jesus loved the church, too. He knew it would struggle. He knew the church would have shameful moments. I love my own children but I’m under no illusions they will always be perfect, or even kind and gentle. Nonetheless, they will always be my precious children.
The same is true for the church. We will always be the bride of Christ.
By the way, if you are ever worshipping at a church at the top of Arnold Drive in East Peoria, IL, I’d recommend not feeling under the pew.