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I've been in Canada all summer, but right now I'm back in Denver. Yesterday, I was able to go to Wellspring, my church, for the first time in three months. It felt good to be home.
I started going to Wellspring when I moved to Denver to start seminary. I hated having to find a new church — I had loved my church in Colorado Springs, and finding a new place to worship felt like a burden. I did a bit of the usual "church hopping" for awhile, but I ultimately settled on Wellspring for a few reasons:
1. The Gospel. The leadership at my church loves the Lord. Every week the truth of Jesus is preached with conviction and grace. Yesterday, we talked about repentance at church, and it was beautiful. My pastor was able to talk about a difficult topic in a way that was honest, convicting and grace-filled. I know that each week the service — from the opening song, to the reading of Scripture, to the sermon, to communion — will be meaningful, intentional, and meant to draw us to the truth.
2. Location. I've not always gone to church close to where I live, and sometimes it's not an option. But I've been grateful that my church was close to both my home and seminary. Not only did it mean less drive time when I was running behind on a Sunday morning, but it meant that I would run into people from church at Target or in the grocery store. I could easily attend events at church or stop by to help out.
3. Service. My church is located in one of the lower-income suburbs of Denver. It's there intentionally. My pastor and the rest of the leadership are very committed to serving the community around them. Every week, the poor and homeless are invited to our church after the service for a meal, groceries, resources and prayer. The church provides counseling and help to those with addictions. This service helps so many people in the community, and what is so amazing is that many people who start out by just coming for a meal, end up coming to our church services and getting to know Jesus. When I look around our church I see an array of people — mature people, young people, seminary students, homeless, former drug addicts, former gossips — all there to worship Jesus who came to set us free from our sin. Jesus, who calls us to love one another.
Wellspring has shown me what it means to commit to a community, preach the Gospel, reach out to the poor and needy — all with truth and grace. It is important to find a church in your community that is truly committed to the work of Jesus.
So, as we look to ROCK THE BODY, share with us: Have you found a Gospel-centered church in your community? What are some things you feel are important in a church?
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--Hi Denise, how did you like the churches in Canada? What was your experience there?
--I found a gospel-centered church with excellent social gatherings for everyone. It takes a while for me to get there, but at least I am experiencing new friendships. I find it important to be able to socialize and make new friends. I believe that regular church groups should be less like classes and more like times for fellowship. I find it very important to create and maintain friendships at church.
-- I chose my church 11 years ago, as soon as I was old enough to leave the church where my parents were members. This church I chose, where I am still a member, I knew of since it began as a house church in my then-neighbor’s house, in 1993. There were a few things absent in my former church that this new church had.
1. I wanted to be a member of a church that focused not only on the Word, but also the Spirit. Finding a church that had sound doctrine was my first priority. I didn’t know a lot about all the spiritual gifts at that time. I wanted to learn and be at a church where not just hand-picked gifts were encouraged to be asked for from God, and lived out.
2. Freedom in worship: my childhood church swung from a very free church (as far as worship in song) to one that was very legalistic. I wanted to be in a body where freely worshipping God through song (and for some dance), while done with decency and in order, was encouraged.
3. Real community: I desired to be with other authentic believers, those who didn’t try to hide behind masks, and those who were striving to love everyone well- not just those who were in a certain Christian group (I won’t name it because I’m not trying to start a debate).
4. Missional focus within the local community that was not so narrow: This church where I’m a member not only focuses on overseas ministry, it also focuses on the needs of those within our own zip code. Rather than a mindset of, “Because you are not a Christian, or you are not a ‘good enough’ Christian, and you don’t obey [these man-made rules], we don’t want you in community with us until you do.” My church reaches out to the lost and needy, and welcomes them into the church- rather than relegating them to “outsider” status (where we’ll help you, but you can’t get too close until you change) until they conform to a set of man-made rules. Also, my church preaches the Gospel, and the other truths from the Bible.
For 11 years, I have continued to grow stronger in my faith and in my church community. I know I am greatly blessed to be part of such a wonderful body of believers.
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