WHAT CHURCH MEANS TO ME
I attended my first church service in Korea on Easter Sunday. Some of the songs were nice, but I stopped listening to the message after I heard I’m going to hell.
Allow me to paraphrase, “If you don’t believe in your heart that Jesus died and rose from the dead—that Jesus is the only way to an eternal life—you won’t be saved.”
Alleluia! What good news.
There’s a reason I don’t like church. I don't want to be told I’m not going to be saved. Honestly, I don’t care. If there is a Heaven, it seems most people planning to be saved are boring. Why would I want to spend eternity with them?
Instead, tell me what Jesus’ resurrection means for the world today. Tell me what I can do to help people today. If Jesus is alive, today, how can I be his hands and feet? Surely it’s not just getting as many people to believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
Sitting in church pews arguing about who is or isn’t going to be saved is such a waste of time. Rather, go out—spread love, joy, and hope to a world in need. People can figure out who or what to believe in through our actions. We shouldn’t have to say anything.
This Easter was more about the resurrection of memories for me, not celebrating Christ coming back to life. Instead of what the pastor was saying, I heard voices of loved ones in my head. I thought about past experiences filled with glorious, true fellowship. That’s what church means to me—fellowship.
I saw the church I went to with my host family in Guyana, the one that resembled an upside-down slave ship. I heard the sounds of rain on its zinc roof. I remembered the sweltering, tropical heat I experienced while worshipping there. I recalled feeling thankful for genuine hospitality, for electricity, and for a fan.
I go to church to be surrounded by community. I’m grateful for friends and family who have been church to me at Immanuel Lutheran, Waldorf College, Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, The Lutheran, Youth Encounter, Awaken Ministries, Rejoice! and Urban Village.
I haven’t lost hope in what church can be. I’ve lost trust in what church often is. What does church mean to you?