How did you end up becoming a part of a church for the first time?
I went to church as a child, but for most of my teenage years, church didn’t figure in my life. I had a faith in Jesus… of sorts. It mostly consisted of praying to ask for forgiveness for all the wrong things I had done that day, even though I knew I would do most of them tomorrow. But for most of my week, Jesus didn’t really fit into the picture.
Then, in my senior year of high school, I met a friend of a friend, who I discovered went to church. None of my friends were Christians and I was really envious that this girl had a whole bunch of Christian friends. I loved the idea of how different, and better, my life might be if my friends shared my faith. So I tried to hint that I wanted to come to church. Sadly, it didn’t work. I was still stuck on the outside, and honestly, I felt that without an invitation, I wasn’t welcome.
However, a few months later, at a party I bumped into this friend of a friend again. This time, she said to me, “I heard you are a Christian!” (Obviously, my secret had got out). So I confessed to my beliefs, and to my surprise, what followed next was not shame and scorn, but an invitation to join her at church. I was pumped! I’d been longing to go to her church for months, and now, I felt like I was finally allowed in. So (much, I think, to her surprise) I said I would love to come.
It was at this church that I discovered the joy of Christian community, had gifts of leadership and preaching/teaching called out in me, opportunities handed to me (waaaayyy… before I was ready) to exercise them, and had my heart broken for the lost and the hurting by a short term missions trip. My life was radically changed by the body of Christ at work.
In Romans 16, Paul sends greetings to 29 people in the church at Rome, and sometimes it is tempting to skip over this list of names. But, listen to how he describes some of them. Phoebe, who is helpful to many (v. 2). Priscilla and Aquila, who risked their necks for my life (v. 4). Mary, who has worked hard for you (v. 6). Persis, who worked hard in the Lord (v. 12). Rufus’ mother, who has been a mother to me as well (v. 13). It becomes obvious that whatever Paul is doing, it won’t happen without these 29 people.
This is the church. This is you Chapel Hill. And we cannot keep this to ourselves. We cannot only minister to our own in the way Paul talks about these people ministering. This stuff is too good not to share. There are thousands of people in this community who need Jesus and his Church just like I did when I was 18. And we must invite them in, just like I was invited in.
That’s why we are putting on these Hot Topics events. So that those who don’t normally get to experience the Life, Liberty & Happiness that is found in Jesus and his Church, can get a taste of it. So please, share these BBQs and live bands and amazing speakers, and this incredible community with someone you know who doesn’t have it. And in the process, know that Jesus will be at work, changing and transforming lives, and making his Name known across this peninsula.