A few years ago I was planning to go on a summer mission trip to the Philippines. It required that I attend a weekend long training event up near Pensacola where I would learn the ins and outs of different cultures, participate in super duper fun activities, and learn what homesickness was really about and how to combat it after 3 months of living in a tent. While I was there I met one of my good friends Ali, and her friends, JJ &Katie. JJ did the music that weekend and I was so blessed with his choice of song and obvious passion about the Lord. Ali and I both found that we had a burden for prayer and spent the mornings praying together while on the trip. It was then that I heard about The Cross, well not The Cross yet, but a church plant on campus that Ali, Katie, and JJ were involved in.
This was an answer to prayer. I wanted so badly to be a part of this church and reach out both to the community and to the campus. Further, I was so enthralled that there were believers at a secular school who loved the Lord so much and wanted nothing more than HIS Glory and Praise in their lives. We chatted about me becoming involved in the church, but I still had not entirely decided I was moving to UWF. I prayed about it for a couple of weeks and then sporadically throughout the rest of the summer. When I went up to visit, Ali and I met and prayed and I went back down.
Well, I ended up back in Pensacola. Ali was gone to Ohio for another church plant. She, like myself, didn’t end up going on a mission trip, and we both giggle at the possibility that the Lord brought us there strictly for the purpose of introducing us to each other. Anywho, in the spring I attended the Cross and loved it, but still not at all ready to be connected. In the fall, after being at WOL for the fourth summer in a row…lol…I wanted to make it a point to get involved with a church and STAY involved. I worked with the youth at OLIVE my first semester at UWF and made some great connections. I was excited about the growth and change happening there, but was uncomfortable with the BIGNESS of the church. Because of my involvement in youth, and a few other reason, I decided to stay.
During this past year, Jordan taught me so much about the church and my involvement in it as a believer. What I wanted to do at Olive was stay to help REFORM and RECONSTRUCT. Not the purpose of church attendance. I was getting lost in the crowds and was too preoccupied with school to make any real efforts at involvement. At his same time, way over in PA, the Lord was teaching Jordan that we are called to marry a church, not just date it. He makes a good point in saying that the churches in the Bible were not star churches, chosen for their godly and upright members to be a part of the Biblical canon. They were the only churches in town, and all believers were expected to attend and commit to them. This was one thing that I failed miserably at. I was not committed to a church. I did not have time to be committed and I was not interested in becoming vulnerable to a whole new group of people. Olive helped me to hide but still feel like I was involved and doing what was expected. To be clear, I was helping with youth and meeting regularly with a woman for accountability, but I was not married, I was simply dating.
When Jordan and I were engaged we began to pray for and about the church that God would have us attend, both Olive and The Cross at the top of the list. As we began to pray the decision became more obvious and was solidified in my mind this summer. At WOL I missed the fellowship and challenge that I had with the people at The Cross, and more importantly I longed for a church that was striving to be BIBLICAL in everything instead of laboring to maintain numbers and tradition.
When we got here last week we had the opportunity to attend both a service at Olive and a service at the Cross. It was clear and Jordan made the decision that we will now be committed to The Cross. We are so excited to serve this church and its people in whatever way we can while we strive to be a light in the darkness of Pensacola. We are married and I am excited!
The moral of the story you ask? We are not called in scripture to attend a church because of it music, service, pastor, size, people or anything else man can possibly have control of. We are called to commit to a church that rightly divides of the Word and labors only for the GLORY of our Savior. Marry a church and stop dating around. We are made for a body, and without it we are weak. If I were the church’s enemy, seeking like a lion to devour any and all believers, I would attack those first who have no strength in the church and are striving to war alone. We need accountability and two are better than one.
If you are in the area and still looking for a church I urge you to come and visit. It is a place that values the Word of God and exalts the name of Christ above all. Service is Sunday at 10:30am at the BCM center on the UWF campus.
Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.