We moved to Texas nearly four years ago. The hardest part was leaving our church: the home group that gathered at our tiny Denver apartment on Tuesday nights; no longer playing keyboard with the worship team; saying goodbye to our spiritual family. Our time at Calvary Chapel Aurora was a season of growing in grace, and growing together in faith as a newly married couple.
So we started looking for a new church for our new life in Texas, but we were quickly discouraged. We had a standard of how church was supposed to feel and sound and look from our time at Calvary, and we couldn’t find anything close.
We ended up visiting a Presbyterian church through a friend-of-a-friend kind of thing. It was small, like less than 50 people small, and it was drastically different from our Colorado church: traditional and liturgical; they said corporate prayers and recited creeds; the pastor wore a robe and administered weekly communion; reformed theology.
We sat on the very back pew, zero expectations, simply spectating. After all, this wasn’t part of our real church search. And then the pastor began his sermon, and we were completely caught off guard. He spoke of sin and redemption; the chains of darkness and the weight of glory; the heart of God to restore us back to Him. His words were like warm bread from the oven, doughy and satisfying. We took the bread in our hands and broke it, separating softly at the center, and we were filled. We were so hungry.
I’d like to say the story ends here, but after two short years the pastor at that Presbyterian church left to begin a career in counseling. Sayla was born around the same time, and the combination of the two led to a waning in our church attendance. It was strange season in our lives.
But alas, the Lord, ever patient and kind, began prodding our hearts back to a church body. And this time, we wanted to lay down the measuring stick of churches and preachers past. We wanted to be more open and less critical.
Our first Sunday back at it, we tried a local church not far down the road, Cooper First Baptist. And though we were slightly bracing ourselves for what could be another painstaking church search, our visit there was pleasant: the people were warm, the worship was heartfelt, and the gospel was preached. It was not like Calvary or Westminster Presbyterian; it was its own, and we decided to stay.
All of this to say, finding a church is hard. I’ve struggled to define what one should or shouldn’t look for, other than this: is the gospel being proclaimed every Sunday? Does the sermon point back to Jesus, to His blood that was shed to redeem our lives from death and destruction? Are we reminded of our sinful nature in desperate need of a Savior?
We do not outgrow or out-learn the gospel. It is not an elementary principle of the faith, and may we never grow tired of hearing it. I’m convinced that if the only thing I heard every Sunday was that I was once lost and broken, but now I’m redeemed by His blood, that I would never thirst, that I would always be filled.
So take, eat; this is His body. Drink, for this is His blood, which is shed for the remission of sins. Feed on His faithfulness, draw near, and let Him satisfy you; do not go hungry.