Prepare yourself for the world's longest blog post. You can read the details. Or if pressed for time, skip to the end in bold for the main point.
Crazy to think that it's been an entire year since we moved our family to join a new family at Bayou City Fellowship.
Chris and I laugh still each week as we pull out of the parking lot on Sundays when we think about how ridiculous we were to fight the move. Let's be honest, how ridiculous I was to fight the move because my wise and unemotional hubby knew long before I did.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
So to look back now, with clear vision, it makes me grin from ear to ear knowing we really did what was best for our family.
It is always scary to walk away from something you know and something that is comfortable, a home of sorts. It is scary to walk towards something not knowing your place or what exactly it will look like. It's scary because it requires total faith in God (a hard thing for this control freak).
Where we were before wasn't a bad place. But we allowed ourselves to get too comfy on that old, worn in sofa, so to speak. That when we were asked to get up, it was impossible. All I wanted to do was pull that blanket in tighter and watch just one more show. Have just one more conversation. Finish my cup of coffee of was sipping.
I didn't want to get up just yet. I was secure. I was comfortable. I was content. I was known. And, I was busy (which this doer loves very much). What I feared was getting up without knowing where we were going, who would be there and what we would do.
But we knew it was the best move for our family, so we went.
And it was this weird mix of giddy first date butterflies and awkward silence for a few months.
We knew a few people, but not a lot. We were so used to being at church all day Sundays, small groups, Wed nights, Bible studies during the week, playgroup, girls nights, guys nights, etc. We almost didn't know what to do with ourselves. Ok, let's be honest again. I didn't know what to do. Chris, being a true introvert, loved our less busy lives.
We hadn't realized how we (not our church) had let church become that social club we always said we didn't want church to be. We were up there and around those same people all the time. And in so many ways this was good. And in so many ways this wasn't healthy.
And it was time for things to shift. It was needed. We wanted more out our life.
And now, a full year later, I look back on the past year and can't help but to smile and want to sob tears of joy. For so many reasons, that I will share with words that couldn't possibly give justice to the reality and in no particular order:
*Thankful the church is about Jesus. This may sound really stupid or overspiritual. And I can remember the first time I asked a friend at BCF what BCF was about and she said, "It's about Jesus." And I gave her that look that says, "Come on. No really. Don't give me a spiritual answer. What's it about?" And we laugh about it now, because it really is the best answer. It's not about numbers or lights or big names or this board or that leader or this theological stance or that _____. Everything comes back to Jesus. Does this honor Him? Does this bring Him glory? Does this cause us to connect with him? Does He want us to do this?
*Thankful for a pastor, Curtis Jones, who leads with such humility, preaches with such passion, shares so vulnerably, relates to all so naturally, and is approachable. I have never heard anyone preach with such conviction, truth and authenticity. I can't take notes fast enough. Some days I don't even try and just soak it in. And every single Sunday Chris and I are challenged to do something.
*Thankful to be a part of something unique. I love that BCF really isn't trying to be like anyone else. In fact, it appears that nothing is done just to do it. Everything is questioned. If it doesn't make sense, we don't do it just to do it. If it seems like it would be beneficial, it's done, even if it is a risk. The best example was this past Sunday when our pastor preached on money and he had the audacity to give people permission to not give if it was given out of obligation and not faith. He said he'd rather our church have a small pot that is full of faith of what God can do, than a big pot that is out of obligation. And he preached the sermon on money after he switched things up and did the offering at the beginning of the service so there would be no pressure to give that Sunday.
*Thankful for the people. This part makes me want to sob. Like ugly cry sob. Because really it's one of the most unique things about BCF. I feel like each person I meet, I want to be their BFF (if I was still looking for a BFF at 31). The people are warm, kind and welcoming. They want to know more about you than where you got your dress from (although this question is still asked). When you ask, "How are you?" you can expect an honest answer. Connecting with Jesus, living for Him, serving our city and living with such purpose is a core value of everyone that attends BCF. It's not a place you can sit and be comfortable. And that creates an authentic community among the people. We really are a family.
*Thankful for worship (the musical part of the service). What gets me most is the heart of this time. There is nothing performance about it. It is a raw time of creative expression as a community. It is one of my favorite moments of my week. There are all different styles in the room and on the stage. But one very clear purpose: we aren't here to sound pretty, we are hear to singing praises to God. We are challenged to go for it in our spirits. And it's more than just songs. It's not unusual to read the Word out loud as a group. It's not unusual for Micah, our worship pastor, to say, "What is God asking you to lay down to connect with Him?" And then he allows there to be a long awkward silence that forces you to answer. Worship is open to however we can worship God.
*Thankful for community groups. Instead of the traditional model of Sunday School we meet in homes during the week. It's broken up by what area and time is best for you. So instead of our primary community being people that are exactly like us, we have a community that looks like, well, a community: singles, young married without kids, young married with kids, older married with older kids, older married with kids gone, divorced, widowed,... you name it. What is so pure about this is our common thread is no longer our life stage, but our life purpose. We all have Jesus in common. It is amazing to have discussion where the framework you are working from is how can I grow as a believer. Not how can I grow as a believer who is married/single/older/etc. This has definitely made it harder to connect with people at the same stage in life as us, but not at all impossible. And half of the time is spent having a meal together. There is a real opportunity to connect... and enjoy some yummy food!
*Thankful for an amazing women's ministry. For anyone that knew me before BCF, you know this was the hardest thing to walk away from at our old church. Women's ministry is a great passion of mine. So not knowing how that would play out in a church that isn't programs based and has some amazing leaders in women's ministry already there, left me apprehensive (my insecurity, not saying it was healthy, just being honest). But that was part of where God was calling me in to step out in faith. Crista, the women's minister, has become one of my favorite people. She has allowed me to come right along side her to learn, to work, to pray, to lead, to teach, to talk and to laugh... a lot. Her authenticity and unapologetic pursuit of Christ has laid an amazing foundation for the women at our church.
*Thankful for the insanely amazing BCF Littles ministry. I leave our girls without hesitation on Sundays. I know that they are not only loved to the max but they are taught intentional truth. I've known Cassi, the children's pastor, for many years and there is no one else I'd rather have leading our kids.
*Thankful for how intent our church is to do something that will make a difference in Jesus name. From bringing awareness to and fighting against human trafficking. To sharing and challenging about orphan care. To really reaching out to our immediate community behind a donation of time and things here and there, but really investing. It has inspired us as a family to be bold in what we do and how we connect.
*Thankful for the strong and genuine emphasis on prayer. It's not just something that we do because we should as Christians and it's what you do at church. Prayer is foundational and continual. Chris and I have been challenged so much to pray with such belief. And it's one place that we've found we love serving together too. They have many come to the front at the end of each service to pray for anyone about anything. It has been such an honor get to love our church family by praying for and with them.
*And, last but not least, thankful for the coffee... still. For some reason the last time I shared about BCF and what we loved about it I talked about the coffee and many of you found that funny. I'm proud to say that my church still serves awesome, doesn't-taste-like-church-coffee-at-all coffee. And once a month Chris and I get to serve on the coffee team and help make and serve it and greet all the other caffeine junkies.
So this was officially the world's longest post. Clearly only a few are left reading. More than anything this was a record for our family, but for those who stayed I am thankful you heard this too.
The main lesson I took away from this journey to BCF is:
And for anyone who is in Houston and looking for a church home or just curious about trying church, you are more than welcome to join us any time! We attend the 5pm service and you are more than welcome to sit with us. Just shoot me an email and we will save you a seat.
And, because I'm an insecure person and want to make sure nothing is taking out of intent, everything I said is about my church and what is happening there. NONE of it is a slant to other churches I've been to or heard about. We are all in this together. This isn't a competition of this place is better. I'm just sharing what I love about my church.