Filling the Void: A Redemption Story
When the word community is generally mentioned, we think about our neighbors. Or perhaps community brings to mind a particular group you might be considered part of: PTA, Monday night basketball league, classmates, the crowds you have to please when you work on your stand-up comedy routine, work colleagues, or even an after-work restaurant you frequent. Regardless of your first thoughts when the word community is mentioned, whatever those thoughts are, community is a group of people that sees us at our worst and our best—and more than that, after they see every side of us, they continue being our community. Community is steadfast and consistent, sometimes even annoyingly so.
When we talk about community in Christ, though, we often view in our minds the congregation of our church. Unfortunately, there is a stereotype when we talk about the community of Christ. The stereotype assumes this community in Christ as opposed to our community in “the world” is all good; that they only see the good in us and “good” is all we can show them. Community in Christ often says we are perfect, and they are perfect, and that brokenness is merely a symptom of worldliness, and thus, there is no room for brokenness or doubt or skepticism in Christian community. But the truth is, community in Christ is made up of people like you and me—broken, skeptical, questioning folks who seek solace in the embrace of our Savior. It is possible to idolize Christian community, and it is possible to be hurt by them as much as it is to be loved by them.
Shelley and Scott both grew up Christian, married, and had three beautiful children. When they were beginning their Christian walk together in marriage, Shelley decided to take classes at Scott’s church in order to become an official member and make their family respected affiliates of their Christian community. It happened one day that a trusted leader and teacher of the classes sat down with Shelley. This trusted leader told Shelley her marriage was not blessed, and that their marriage was null in the sight of the Lord. And while none of this was Biblical in any way, Shelley was mortified that a respected leader of the church and the community of Christ could not just reprimand, but degrade her and her family in such a way. The leader’s justification of such an insult was that Shelley and her husband Scott were not of the same denomination when they married nor when they had children, thus their relationship with each other and with their kids was not “blessed.”
Understandably, this left a bitter, angry, resentful taste in the mouths of Shelley and Scott. The community of Christ, much like worldly community, had shown its human head and hurt them. They stepped away from community and, more specifically, from church.
It wasn’t until Shelley and Scott were searching for preschools for their eldest when they stumbled upon Crosswater Community Church. After loving the regimen and liking the teachers at the preschool, Shelley and Scott took a chance and visited a Sunday service at the church. The first thing that struck the visiting couple was Pastors Jack and George walking around during the worship and shaking hands with the community—both long-time members and first-time visitors, like themselves. There was intentionality and humility about this, which George and Jack do every Sunday. After shaking hands with these pastors, Shelley thought: “I need this.”
By coming down off stage, by not isolating themselves as “leaders”, the pastors of Crosswater were able to reestablish what community in Christ actually looks like. We’re all sinners, and we all are capable of misleading and hurting one another. But their physical, habitual actions of embracing those in the aisles before preaching emphasizes the fact that Christian community is still made up of humans. At its worst, this community has the potential and power to hurt and push people away from the church. But at its best, the Christian community has the ability to heal, to draw in, to be a contagious body, to encourage and love in spite of our humanness.
Since that visit, Shelley, Scott, and their wonderful kids have become members of Crosswater, of a Christian community where nobody is perfect, and imperfection is covered with grace—grace for leaders as well as visitors. No one can adequately define the relational love Christ has for us. And with this in mind, Shelley says now of their previous church’s misdirecting leader: “She’s my sister in Christ.” Jesus loves us even though we’re all equally imperfect. Thus, the Christian community is not defined by how right and good we are, but by the acknowledgment that apart from Christ there is nothing right or good about us. Through this commonality, we become vessels for His Word, and we become a community of broken but grace-covered people, who know a Love much deeper than the world could ever offer.
Share your story!
We want to hear how God is bringing real transformation to your life.
Why tell your story?
Our transformation story is the best tool we have to spread the Good News. It is personal, it is real, and it is the thing we know the most about our own experience with God.
Write your story down.
Take some time to sit down, pray, and write out your personal testimony asking the Holy Spirit for help. Writing it down will help you organize your thoughts.
How long should it be?
Your story should be able to be told in 3 minutes or less. This may seem like a challenge but a good story should be engaging and concise. All of Jesus’s parables were this way and we would love to tell stories like Jesus.
Focus on these three areas
Your life before Christ
How you met Christ
The Difference Jesus has made in your life
Tell us your story and let us know if you’d like to share your story with the rest of the church. Someone from our staff will contact you.