Our family has moved a lot. Moving can be tough. Painful. With each move, relationships are strained, some even severed as phone calls and emails dwindle. But the hardest part of moving is losing then reconnecting to a church family. When we first moved to the midwest, we struggled finding a church home. That was a very difficult time for all of us. Today, Sherri Wilson Johnson shares her story and what God showed her about the body of Christ.
Taking a Break From Serving by Sherri Wilson Johnson
I believe serving God is a good thing and that we can serve Him everywhere we go by showing our love for others and doing random acts of kindness—like paying for the meal of the people in the car behind you in the drive-thru or taking food to someone who is sick. The most common place to serve the Lord is in the church by loving, teaching and serving His people.
But what about if you find yourself in a position where you don’t have a church in which to serve? Or maybe you have a church but a situation in your life has created a barrier and you need to take a break? Is it really such a big deal? Can’t we just do good things for the people we come in contact with on a daily basis and call it even?
I have spent the last year as a Christian hobo, so to speak, searching for a new church home. Having attended church my entire life and having served routinely as an adult for the better part of twenty-five years, I found it temporarily refreshing not to serve when we left our church last year. It was nice not to have to arrive at church an hour early and stay an hour late to clean up. It was nice not to have to attend meetings and attend training sessions.
Galatians 5:13-14 says: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus gives us the command to serve and love others. And this is done both inside and outside of the church walls. However, I learned the hard way that if you’re not connected to a body of believers and serving within the walls of the church, it’s often easy to neglect the serving outside of the church. It’s easy to use your tithe money for something else. And it’s awful feeling like an outsider.
After about six months of being without a church home, visiting around looking for a new place to plant ourselves, my feet started itching to greet people in the lobby, teach women’s Bible studies, take up the offering, spend time with youth, and do the food bank delivery. The ice thawed and a new desire emerged from the frozen earth of my soul to find the place God wanted us to serve. Why? Because as sojourners on our way to Gloryland, we want to be together with other believers. We long for a place to belong in this crazy world where enemies nip at our backs.
We were not created to live this Christian life alone. We were not created to live only with our own desires being met, especially the desires of the flesh, which tend to blur out the need for accountability within the body of Christ. We were created to follow the example Jesus set and that is to serve others—with gladness (Psalm 100:2).
We are blessed to have so many choices in churches these days. There is a church practically on every corner. It may seem difficult to find the one that suits your family and meets its needs and also gives you an area to serve within your giftedness. I’ve been there. I understand. If you do find yourself in this predicament, I encourage you to pray and to seek recommendations from trustworthy, like-minded Christians who may be able to point you in the right direction of your new church home. If you have a church home but are currently not serving (for whatever reason) I encourage you to jump in somewhere and give it a try. Summertime is the best time to do it because crowds are usually smaller and church schedules are often more relaxed.
One thing I can promise you is this: When you serve, you give away a part of yourself to others—but you will receive so much more in return while doing so.
Sherri Wilson Johnson is the author of To Dance Once More and Song of the Meadowlark. She is from Georgia, has been married since 1988, and is a former homeschooling mom. She loves to write, read, eat ice cream, ride roller coasters and make people laugh. She loves Jesus and hopes to spread His love to the whole world through her writing. Visit her online:
And check out her novel, To Dance Once More:
To Dance Once More is the story of Lydia Jane Barrington, a Victorian debutante. Lydia lives on a plantation in Florida under the watchful eye of her father. She’s quite an independent young lady who does not want to fall into the trap (as she sees it) that her mother and sisters have fallen into—marriage and motherhood. She wants to travel the world and experience life before giving her heart to a man. One day, her eyes are opened to love and no matter what, she cannot forget the blissful feeling it causes. She begins to believe that love isn’t such a bad thing after all. Then she discovers a secret that prohibits any of her dreams from ever coming true. She begins a quest to free herself and her family from a future of bondage. Hearts are broken and lives are torn apart because of Lydia’s own selfishness. Will she surrender to a call that God placed on her life and be able to experience love after all? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about connecting with the body of Christ. There are so many reasons to isolate … past hurts, insecurities, busy schedules. And in today’s media-saturation with church services broadcasted on the internet, radio, and television, we may believe we don’t need God’s body. But God designed us to live in community,not isolation. To lean on one another. Isolation leads to loneliness and leaves us vulnerable to deception. I also believes it robs us of experiencing the love of God poured out through others.
More than that, I believe we will never find true fulfillment and purpose until we embrace the mission God has for us — at *each moment*. Because Christians don’t have shelf lives. (You can read an article about this here.) Wherever you are, in whatever stage you are in, God has a plan, an eternally important role, just for you.
We will never find a perfect church or perfect friends, just as we will never be perfect. But by God’s grace, we can find intimacy, purpose and fulfillment.
Wow, what a beautiful lady from the inside out! Someone once asked me why it was so necessary to go to church. I wish this post had been around then. I would have posted it all over my facebook page. This is the best explanation of why church is so important that I have seen. We need each other and we need to use our gifts. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
Sherry, thank you so much for the kind comments! God bless!
Reblogged this on Sherri Wilson Johnson – Sharing Jesus In My Own Unique Way and commented:
Finding a church home can be tough … but living in isolation is harder.
I have just returned to the church after an embarrassingly long sabbatical. I kept waiting to be “called” to worship. What I finally got was a series of nudges, and they have been my life’s most important nudges. I understand now that God wasn’t angry at me for not going to church, rather he was sad for me and all that I was missing out on. But my church, being the wondeful place that it is, simply welcomed me back into the fold and walked along beside me as if I had never left. There was no need for excuses or explanations, they were only glad to see have me in their midst again. I learned so much about myself and my world during my time away…but I am learning so much more about Him and His Kingdom now that I have returned!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful message…it has touched a chord in my heart!
Audrey, what a beautiful testimony of God’s love and grace and how He showed you His gracious love through others at your church. I love how God gently nudges and draws us to Himself and His children, where we can be surrounded by love. 🙂 Have a blessed day, sweet sister.
What a truly beautiful story! I am so glad you have returned to fellowship with other believers.
I’m so glad to be back!
Audrey, I got your message about using this post with your group and tried to email you back but it came back as undeliverable. You are welcome to use it.
Thank you Sherri!