That first Sunday in college I was there with all the other freshmen ready to tackle finding a church for ourselves for the first time. Let me tell you, College Station has a lot of churches and it has only continued to grow in its options since I’ve left there. I think I tried only two churches freshman year. I landed on Living Hope and fell in love.
Now, my falling in love was only to the extent I wanted it to be. I loved the services. I loved the music and the preaching. I also loved that, because of the size, I could sneak in and out without having to talk to people and that I could not get involved and just suck what I wanted out of the church. Oh, and they had free coffee.
That’s actually a really funny thing, because if you know Living Hope, you know they are all about involvement in the church. Giving back to your church and your community. They are an equipping church. They know they are in a college town and have four years to make a difference in these kids’ lives. And they try. They want you to leave their church having had it modeled what it means to be a church member and having practiced it yourself. They want you to join the church and keep your covenant. Oh, and their covenant actually requires you to do stuff. I don’t remember all it entails, but it did include going to a Hope Group, meeting three new people every week at church, and being a part of two ministry teams.
I’ll be honest, I never met three new people each week. I was never going to win a trophy for being the best member. It took me two and a half years to even join the church.
But they taught me the importance of being a member and being involved. A church is a sum of its members who are willing to serve each other and the community. If you’re only going to church for what you can get out of it you’re not being a part of the Church Biblically. God’s given us gifts and talents to share not hoard. All the gifts and talents God gives to his children are of the type that they are useful in a group. None of them are “private” gifts.
They taught me that involvement includes being a part of people’s lives. Life on Life. The adults in the church opened their homes to a lot of college kids, letting us come over whenever we wanted and be a part of their family. They told you up front they were not going to just stop everything they were doing every time you came over. If you wanted to come over, you got to be a part of their family in every sense of the word. Oh we’re doing yard work? Great, here’s a rake. We can talk while you help.
Weston and I both took a lot away from going to Living Hope. We both desire to be a part of the body in a practical way that includes serving where God has given us passions and talents. And we want our home open to people. Even it if means people see our messy side. There may be dishes in the sink, socks on the floor, shoes by the door, oh and I will more often than not be in sweat pants. But that’s life. And often times that’s what people need to see. That your life isn’t perfectly clean and put together and how God is in the small things. Loving people not just when it fits into your schedule, but even when you haven’t had time to prepare.