This past weekend, we were honored to have the Teen Challenge Choir in our church, singing praises and sharing testimonies. For those who are unaware, The Teen Challenge is a faith based addiction recovery center. They are all over the world, working with Jesus and those who have addictions.
This is the second time the group has come to our church and sang; it touched me as much as the first. This time, however, I was also reminded of the things my church does right.
I don’t share this to brag or show empty praise towards our church, I am sharing this because I believe there are some things the church we belong to does right quite often. These are things that the church, in general, in my opinion, must be doing to provide a healthy, family environment to those who attend.
(Making my Believer’s Baptism, Summer 2015)
We talk about the hard stuff. I have been blessed with a church that has a heart for those struggling with addiction and other health issues. We have a wonderful ministry that works with those who are affected by cancer. Our pastor talks about sex and sin, and candidly about his own struggles with living a Christian lifestyle and making time for Jesus and family. I am so grateful for the honesty that comes through our church. I’ve heard testimony after testimony of those who have had their own life hardships, shared my personal struggles, and miraculously? It always seems to end up with loving each other. The openness about mental health that takes place in the church is one I am personally extremely thankful for-as I have mentioned, I have my own personal struggles with mental health issues and my two adopted children have seen pretty intimately what can come from addictions.
And the best part about that all? As a whole, the First Baptist Church of North Adams has never left me feeling like those in the pews believe in giving up on others who struggle with these things. While I’ve heard family members and parents converse about how they need to set boundaries or limits, I have seen time and time again a church family who welcomes those back from the struggle with loving arms. I need my children to see that no matter how long or how intensely an addiction or mental illness may have it’s grip on a person, they will always be loved. In my experience many other churches seem to not provide that-and we are blessed to have one that encourages and bleeds that belief.
We have an amazing bunch of ministry groups. This is a bit of a biased opinion, but we have tried to create many groups within the church for different ages, different people, and different life situations. We have a ministry for those touched by cancer, one for young adults(hey I run that one!!), women’s, men’s, children’s, etc. If you want to be involved, you can get involved.
Our children’s ministry is amazing, active, and so involved-and they know. I was so passionate about belonging to a church that had a children’s and youth ministry when we began looking for a church. We found one-we found an amazing one! Our children attend Sunday School, they attend Kingdom Kids(an after church group for kids), they go to youth group and girl bible studies. Seeing them in the church, helping and growing, makes my heart sing. I was a church kid-I went on Sundays, I attended camp, I did Youth Group and mission trips. I always wanted that for my kids. I see them thriving and creating such wonderful relationships with their leaders.
We’re also super lucky to have a church children’s ministry that gets it. My kids have some more intense needs. We have a child who has developmental disabilities, we have one who deals with anxiety. Both of these children have been welcomed into their various places with love. We have a huge group of adoptive and foster parents within our church, which also adds to my appreciation for our church family. They understand families are complicated; and they respect it.
We truly are a church family. Our church has been blessed with an amazing growth recently and the most recurring theme seems to be that people come here and feel at home. That’s true for our family as well. We are comfortable at our church, we are comfortable with other church members. We host a dinner at our house twice a month and the kids anxiously await for these people to start showing up. I work in the nursery and have rocked so many kids to sleep from birth to age three the past few years. As my pastor said last weekend, hospitality is part of our DNA at this church. I love it like that.
There are plenty of things our church needs to work on. I am working on creating activities for young adults, we hope to add more bible studies in this upcoming year. But our church is a wonderful family, filled with some crazy aunts and uncles, lots of good food-we love to eat together, great music and fabulous friendships and faith.
What’s your favorite part of your home church? If you’re nearby and looking for a church, please check us out!