The first was when I was a kid, a Pentecostal-like church that I wrote about in “Sweating to the Oldies.” The second I started serving at as a 17 year old. I started going to that small church because they’d needed a piano player for a couple weeks. I eventually went on staff there.
The third was the church I moved to Toledo for, where I served for a little over three years. The fourth was a small church plant, an offshoot of the local megachurch. We merged with another church and created what would become the fifth church for me and where I grew a lot as a pastor.
When I left there in October 2008, I then started serving at a Methodist church (my sixth, if you’re counting) in an interim part-time role. I then was offered and accepted the position where I’m at now, Eaton Church of the Brethren—my seventh.
Last summer I read a book called So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore and had it not been for this “calling” from God to serve the local church, I may have seriously considered not going anymore. So much about church is exasperating. I won’t ruminate on this any further because I really don’t want to feel frustrated so early in the morning. It’ll upset my stomach.
From They to We
Recently, I finished reading through the book of Acts in my morning devotional time, and I feel like through the accounts of the apostles and the Early Church that God was speaking to me about things I’d basically transferred to the backburner. Frustrations I’d simply let slide. Nothing hit home for me more than when I read this:
And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. —Acts 16:10 ESV
I know this doesn’t seem like much, but notice the pronoun we. Luke, who also wrote the Gospel account, is writing the book of Acts from a third person perspective. Everything to this point, halfway through the book, has been they, them, their. Then there is this shift to first person plural: we, us, our.
My ESV Study Bible noted: “the occurrence of we is the first time in the narrative that the first person plural occurs in Acts,” most likely indicating that “at this point Luke, the author of Acts, joined the missionary group as they set out for Macedonia.”
I’m planning on doing a more in depth study of Acts (after I finish 1 John), especially because as I’ve read, I’ve become envious of the church’s effectiveness. I want to be a part of a church that is moving with the Holy Spirit and impacting their community. This doesn’t mean I should go looking for that church. No, it means I should become that church. It begins with me. As Michael Jackson said, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”
As Luke did, I want to join the movement, not just stand by as an idle witness—writing on my blog about what other people are doing. If you’re a follower of Christ, wherever you are, will you join me?