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Is that pew feeling comfortable?

Today my son and I visited a new church. I must say, when we woke up we were excited about our new adventure to this new church. I am sure if you looked close enough you could see a little skip in our walk.

As we entered the church, a church we have been in before, it was as though we were a fish out of water. You know that feeling. Your totally out of your comfort zone. Everything is new. Kind of exciting, but you would love to feel some comfort about now. Kind of like that love for down home country food. No matter how your feeling, when that plate is set in front of you, you are feeling warm love, my friend.

We felt nothing of the sort. There was one man who spoke to us as we entered the sanctuary.  Not one person even noticed we were visitors..or did they? Now, let me move ahead just a bit. The pastor was awesome. The message was amazing. Made me think outside the box and I LOVE that. But the thing that was missing was almost the one thing your hoping to receive. Warmth..love..friendliness.

The music was some of the best I have heard. I can tell you, it wasn't a knock your socks off worship service, but the Lord was speaking to me loud and clear. Sometimes what we expect is not at all what we are needing. God seems to be in the business of giving the unexpected. It doesn't have to be a service that makes you shout, cry or dance in your pew, to make a difference in your life. Sometimes it can just be you and Jesus taking care of business right there in the pew. As worship came to a close we stood to leave and we were just feet among the crowd moving outdoors to our cars.

I walked out to my car and before I started the engine I just sat there. My son was silent for a moment and then we both said at the same time, "So, what did ya think?" My son said, "Mom, there was something missing." From our conversation I can tell you, the Lord is doing a work in our hearts. We are searching. We are seeking Him on every level. We want to know Christ like never before. We want to be changed. We want to serve Him with a new passion.

So, I sat there in the warmth of the car. All I could think about at the moment was turning the heat on and just sitting there for a moment. My son said to me, "Mom, how many times have we ever made people feel like we just felt?" You know what I mean. We walk into our church and make a run for our regular pew. That pew where we feel nice and comfortable. We get so use to sitting in our pews we forget to look around. We miss the new people walking through the door. We are so caught up in ME that we forget to look around at others. We even get used to just speaking to those few in our comfortable little circles.

In a rush we walk past others, sometimes not even looking them in the eye when we say, "Hi, how are ya today?" Goodness, do we even stop long enough for the other to answer? Do we even want to know, really? Lets be honest.

Today the Lord spoke very clear to my heart. I am to be a humble servant of the Lord. I am to reach out to others and make them feel loved, welcome and warm. It is my prayer that I never pass by another in church and make them feel as though they are just a shadow. I know I have walked right by people before not even paying attention, but being focused on something else, and I have probably made them feel as if they didn't even matter. Why do we do that? Why don't we take time with people?

Today, everything is so quick. We can shoot someone a text or an email. I think like God, we should be more into one on one. I need to step out of my pew and reach out to others. I need to be a little less cozy and a little bit more uncomfortable. It seems the more we reach out the easier it just might become. Just think if we are reaching out we aren't going to be so complainingly crabby about whether or not Jodie spoke to us today or whether Sam reached out for our hand. We are going to be so busy doing the Lord's work we will find ourselves satisfied and complete in Him. Whether we like it or not, it is our job to make others feel loved and welcome. Don't we want to feel that way?

So, what can I take away from today? Be a greeter! Smile and welcome people with a pure heart. Take time and look into the eyes of the one passing by as you say, "Hi Nancy, how are you today?" Ask with a pure heart and wait for her answer. She might just be in need of a friend willing to listen and pray with her. Switch pews once in a while and have conversations with those on the other side of church. Take the initiative and make a point to make another person feel welcome sitting in the pew next to you.

"Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality." Romans 12:9-13

Comments

Shelly Brown said…
Really great insight Robin. I have been attending the same church for 30 years, and while that makes me sound like a denture wearing 80 year old, I'm only 43 ;-).

Being at a place for so long it is easy to become complacent and caught up with our own comfortable circles. I've watched many come and go over the years simply because they couldn't seem to connect ... to break through the exclusive circles.

I'm more sensitive these days than ever before of those around me. It would crush me to know that I caused someone to not feel comfortable or loved. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned! ;-) Church should be all inclusive. That's my heart!

I love your heart and transparency Robin. While there is no perfect church, I will pray you find the perfect place for you to worship. I don't know what I'd do if I lacked in that area. While it's not the basis of intimate walk with the Lord, it's that cherry on top of the sundae for me. It fills that deep need to worship corporately. I'm sure you long for that as well, so I'd be honored to agree in prayer with you for it. ;-)
Robin Prater said…
Shelly, thank you for sharing such beautiful words with me. I have been a Christian for 19 years now and have attended the same church most of that entire time.

I love my home church. Although, I have become very comfortable. I feel God calling me to move. I am not sure if He is calling me to move outside of my home church or just move outside of my pew I have grown so very comfortable in.

I am seeking His will. He is teaching me so very much and it seems the more I open myself up to Him, well, the more HE is opening me up to ALL He has.

I am so touched by your words, Shelly.
Blessings to you,
Rob
Shelly Brown said…
Don't mean to take up all your comment area, ;-) BUT ... I understand pretty well what it's like to become uncomfortable in your home church. I admire the way you are seeking God for this. Jeremiah 29:13 is a promise that if we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him. And, that's exactly what you're doing. :-)

My church has been sort of a parent to me. I've needed them and have been mentored by the Pastor's wife and other women who chose to love me unconditionally when I so desperately need it since I was 13 years old. Over the last three years though, there has been some very deep hurt and tough circumstances. To give you perspective, as I sat in my Pastor's office working through some of it, he said, "Shelly, I can't believe you're still here after all of this." Ha! I was able to share with him that I made a commitment to the Lord and to my teenage children that we would never leave a place because we are hurt or angry. We'll leave when God makes it clear, oh so clear, that He's releasing us. And ... God hasn't release me (us) yet. ;-) So, we're still there. "Happily" committed. And, I am pretty sure God has been honored by it. ;-)

I'm sorry I rambled about this, I'm not sure why, but I just felt compelled, perhaps by the Holy Spirit? to share that with you.

Many blessings to YOU, Robin. ;-)
Sweet dreams.
Shelly
Robin Prater said…
I think the Holy Spirit is speaking through you, Shelly. Thank you for sharing with me.

I love our church. It has become family, but just a little too comfortable. I feel my heart searching for more, but like you, the Lord hasn't given us the signal to move.

I feel the need to just go where He is calling. I want to be obedient to Him. Even though comfortable is nice, it's not what He has called us to.

I think I have lots of emotions I need to work through. Maybe some hurts too. I know the Lord will show us the way and either show us to remain still or open another door to great things I have yet to see.

Again, thank you so much. Blessings to you:)
Rob
Shelly Brown said…
Okay ... promise, this will be my last comment. ;-) Praying for you through this. This matters to God. I've been digging in to Matthew 14:22-33 for a while now. Very rich passage. It seems to speak to me in a different way each time I dig into it. ;-)

Love and prayers,
Shelly

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