i am a product of junior high ministry. i have attended two churches in my lifetime. the first one being the church i became a Christian at and the second being the one i currently work at. although the are in the same denomination, they are completely different. because of my “lack” of church experience, i have found myself on several occasions comparing the two and wondered which church is normal or which church in more normal than the other.
the conclusion i have come to is this… there are no “normal” churches, in fact there is no accurate description of what a “normal” church is, nor is there an accurate description of what “normal” is. sure there is a dictionary description that goes something like this: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. but that just doesn’t cut it for me because i then want to know who then sets the standard.
well, the most logical answer is God, He sets the standard. but the reality is that, at least in my limited church experience, God is the last one that is consulted in what “normal” is or should be for the church.
too often i see within the denomination of the church i attend that there is more attention paid to the ritual of worship then actually spending time being in His presence. more energy is expelled to make sure that everything looks good and is pleasing to the eye, yet there are people who are dying everyday who haven’t heard th gospel and are going to hell. (yes, i said it folks… there are people going to hell!) more money is spent in making sure that programs are big and flashy, while people down the street from us are hungry and homeless. more of our hearts are dedicated to earthly things, than being focused on the one true God.
never in a million years did i ever think that i would land where i currently am… doing ministry in a small town at a small church, but this is clearly where God called me to be. never in a million years did i think that i would be doing youth ministry, the place where i started my portion of this journey with God. in the midst of all this God has been completely real and honest with me, sometimes brutally honest. and frankly, i expect that.
so here i am… this poor, pitiful girl who walked into the cyc at fremont over fifteen years ago, ministering to youth in a small town in the central valley of california.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jer. 29:11, NIV)