Two days ago I sat in a black swivel chair and tried not to move my head as the scissors snipped close by. Not even five minutes into the appointment, our conversation turned to trusting God for the future. She wrapped my wet hair in a towel and as I sat down, the full-length mirror staring back at us as she went to work carefully giving my hair a much needed cut, the words about God turned to words about the Church.
Naturally, without force, they tumbled out. The story of loving, wandering, searching, wrestling, staying. A few minutes later the mirror reflected a different mouth moving as she told her own version of finding, leaving, and hoping. I didn’t think too much of my words, assuming she was simply making conversation, until I realized the story I had just told was much like hers.
Strangers who have been hurt by the Church and love her still so dearly.
I’ve spent a lot of time searching for Sunday. Almost the entire first half of college I visited different churches, venturing into buildings alone, sitting in another unfamiliar pew by myself. Every once in a while a friend joined and that made it a bit easier. Being the new person every week is a hard gig, y’all. But I couldn’t quit Her. I couldn’t stop. Even when I wasn’t sure where to turn, even when the earlier wounds were deep and a lazy Sunday morning was appealing, the search continued.
“Church hopping” sounds like you’re shopping around for a building full of nice people. Maybe you want contemporary music or to sit in traditional pews. Maybe you grew up taking communion every Sunday, maybe every quarter, maybe you’re trying to find what you left years earlier, maybe you want something completely different. Church hopping feels like carrying an unwritten list into every service, waiting and watching to see how many checkmarks will be given.
But church is not a building. Oh, sure, the Church often meets in buildings or homes or around tables. But the Church cannot be contained inside walls. I wanted a building, yes. But more than that I wanted the Church.
To trust the Body, to be loved by the Body, to find myself known and appreciated and valued, to find a place to pour back out and serve.
As I listened to the story spilling out, telling the journey of finding a place and years later discovering it wasn’t going to work out, I listened as she explained she didn’t want to be a number; she wanted to be known.
I’m not sure where you stand when it comes to the Church. I don’t know where you go on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights or Saturday evenings. But I do know this: the Church is beautiful. She is made up of imperfect humans and so there will be wounds, there will be messes, and there won’t be answers for every question raised. Disagreements will happen but listen — the Church will prevail.
Don’t leave her just yet. Search for Sunday. Leave the covers and walk through the door.
It took a long time but now every weekday I find myself looking forward to Sunday. The church hopping days weren’t wasted – they taught me so much, many of those lessons only now beginning to show up. But now I look around and find myself thinking “I’m home. Right here.” And here’s the thing, y’all. It doesn’t look like what I expected. It wasn’t what I was “looking for” in the way of appearances or all those things that go on the mental checklists — yet it is home.
It is the Church and I cannot walk away, I cannot quit her. Every week we gather, we are fed, we are encouraged, we are strengthened – all with the cross at the center. And then the Church walks outside the doors of the church because Church is not a place, it is a people.
Sometimes Church happens in a hair salon.
Related :: 5 Ways to Choose Sabbath
This post is the result of many years of thinking, processing, learning, growing, stumbling, and more. And still, even after spending the past few years takes classes on the sacraments and different theologies, there is so much more to know. I wanted to write these words, messy as they may be, after reading through Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. I knew as soon as I heard the title of Rachel’s newest book that I would need to read it. While I don’t agree with some of her viewpoints, and while there are definitely some generalities that were applied throughout the book that I do not personally find appropriate, I did however greatly appreciate her willingness to honestly and vulnerably share her journey to, away from, and back home to Church.
When a friend asked mid-way through the book what it was about, I simply said “The Church. And the sacraments. And walking away from the Church and then loving it all over again.” When she asked what I thought so far, I said “It’s that feeling you get when something bad happens and you wouldn’t wish it on someone else, but you’re grateful in a way for those who have felt it too. I’ve needed to hear what I’ve read so far.” After turning the final page, I can honestly say that’s still how I feel about the book as a whole. I may not agree with every point made, but I’m grateful for the story told.
Hi Kaitlyn! I’m delignted to see your face in my linkup and even more to connect with you in your lovely corner of the internet. I feel your heart in its devotion to the church. You are right not to quit on her. The church isn’t perfect but His love is. If we stay long enough wherever that church may be (subway, hair salon, grocery store) – He’ll do the work in us. Blessings to you beauty!
Lisha it’s so fun to link up with you! Thank you so much for being a welcoming place.
I loved the line too : Church is not a place, it is a people. What a great approach to a book review. Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays.
Thanks Mary! Glad to have found your fun link up. :)
Great review. Thanks for sharing, I’m visiting you from Coffee for your Heart Link Up. Blessings, Tayrina.
Thank you Tayrina – great to “meet” you!
Our church says we are trying to help people find their way home. I always love hearing that!
Oh I like that!
It’s a good reminder that the church is filled with sinners. Loved by God’s grace. The community within a church is important, but that’s not everything. We need to be filled with His Word in truth! It’s a blessing when we can find that in a church.
This is good: “The Church walks outside the doors of the church because Church is not a place, it is a people.” We need to go out into the world, spreading God’s love and sharing His love and grace with others.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Emily!
I so relate to your words, Kaitlyn. There is a long story to tell, but I can sum it up in this: we’ve been at our “new” church after 20+ years at the last. Hard to leave, hard to stay, and a whole lot of hurt sent us in a new direction – which is precisely the direction God wanted us to go. We’ve seen Him move in amazing ways and graciously confirm our own little exodus. Church is a people and sometimes I think we forget that. It’s something that is firmly ingrained in my mind now. I want to be the kind of church that people want to stay with for a very long time. So glad to be your neighbor at #tellhisstory.
Oh man.. it’s such a journey. I get that. Leaving is hard but sometimes staying is harder. I love how you wrote, though, that you want to be the kind of church people stay with for a long time. I love it ’cause you’re right.. we’re the Church.
Lovely Kaitlyn! I like the idea of searching for Sunday. I did that for awhile myself and found I did carry a checklist in my heart which was very hard to be fulfilled in any church. Thank you for pointing us to the book by Rachel Held Evans. It sounds wonderful!
You’ll have to let me know what you think if you pick up a copy. :)
Thanks for sharing this post at #RaRaLinkup! Sounds like a needed story. I loved this line: “It is the Church and I cannot walk away, I cannot quit her. Every week we gather, we are fed, we are encouraged, we are strengthened – all with the cross at the center.” Amen! The church is not a place, it’s a people!!! Love it.
Ha – I love that you loved that line! It’s literally true… the church I attend meets in a large room and all the chairs are arranged in a circle – the cross and/or the table in the center. :)
Love this post, Kaitlyn. “Church is a people”, indeed.
How blessed we are to be the people of–the family of God.
~ Blessings from your neighbor at #RaRaLinkup today. <3
Thanks so much for visiting, Brenda! It was great to “meet” you here.
When we moved to Virginia last year we had a pretty good idea of the kind of church we wanted to attend. We visited several churches and none felt right to us, then God turned our idea list on its ear and put us in a church with no building. Well, no building of its own – we meet in a school. Church is not contained in bricks and mortar but in the people. Love this!
Yes! It’s not even about the building.
This is a beautiful post, Kaitlyn! I’m with Karen, I loved that last line. We’ve been working in church planting the last few years, and we’ve seen church happen in a living room, on the beach, at the park, and even at restaurants and cafes. Not necessarily a “church service,” sometimes just God’s people coming together.
Exactly… it’s simply His people coming together. Anywhere. Somehow that sounds so casual but it’s anything but, you know?
Love this review, Kaitlyn! I’ve been wanting to read this book, guess I better get started!! Thanks for linking up this week.
Oh! You’ll have to let me know what you think!
Amen! Church is a people! Our church just adopted this tag line: Know. Be Known. Make known. We are making it a priority to build community. And you are right. A home is being built. Your words are so beautifully crafted and full of honesty. And I especially love your last line: “Sometimes Church happens in a hair salon.”
I love that tagline! That’s totally it.