Last week, we were in Nashville searching for a new place to live. (I’ll have an update on the big move in a day or two for y’all.) While searching for an apartment, we were also looking for a church to call home for however long God wants us in the area. We did a LOT of research for this—almost as much as we did for apartments! I listened to a lot of sermons, browsed a ton of websites, and asked quite a few friends about their own churches.
Last Sunday, we visited one of these churches, and it was a great time. The people were friendly. The preaching was solid and thoughtful. The music was Christ-exalting. And we even had friends, there! (The kids ministry uses The Gospel Project, too, which is important since we want to provide a sense of continuity for our children.)
In a lot of ways, it was new and strange. In others, it was very familiar.
I’m not unaccustomed to visiting churches other than my own. I’m not a church shopper, mind you. But I do travel a fair bit. So whenever I’m away from my home church, I do my best to visit another church nearby. Although I miss my church when I’m away, it’s refreshing to know that I can connect with others, too. That despite my being a relative stranger, I am also recognized as family.
And that’s an attitude I want to be careful to protect and nurture. Despite the tendency toward individualism in our culture (and in my own heart at times), I’m never really alone. Because I am in Christ, I can go to any faithful Christian church and feel more or less at home. Sure, some of the cultural context will be different, but we have the main thing in common: Christ.
If we are in Christ, we are family.
We can encourage one another. We can strengthen one another. We can serve one another. Even if we’re only together a short time, we can do these things. Granted, it’s not easy, but we can. And when we part ways, we are still family.
That’s something I’m keeping in mind, even as I attend what will be my second last gathering at my current church as a member. There are many things I’m going to miss: Teaching our baptism class. Teaching in our kids ministry. Laughing about silly nonsense with my friend, Brad. Cracking jokes with Jon and Cory, two of our pastors. Sharpening conversations with Leo, another of our pastors. But the good news is, despite the fact that I won’t be a regular face there, our relationship isn’t over. Together, we are in Christ.
And because we are in Christ, we are still family. Even if I’m 600 miles away.