A week or so ago I published a post entitled 'Where it all Began, talking a little about my first real Church, the encouragement and inspiration that sewed the seeds of my spiritual growth and development:
Today's post is a bit of a sequel. Not where I started, but where I am now, the importance of finding a spiritual home, a place to belong, some of the problems that can happen, the fallouts the failures and why it's worth persevering with a faith community and fellowship...in the Salvation Army we call them 'Corps' but 'Church' is just as relevant & I think these issues are just as important regardless of which denomination you belong to and identify with.
I started attending my home Corps (Coventry City, UK) about 13 years ago-ish. I've been a Senior Soldier for 12 years this July. I started attending during a strange time for the Corps. We were in between buildings, as we were waiting for the construction of a new building to replace the old one which had become unfit for purpose. So the whole Corps was in a bit of a limbo situation, sharing a building with another Church community.
Eventually our brand spanking new building opened in mid 2005, followed shortly by a change in Officers (ministers).
So a new home, new leaders. A new start and fresh beginning. Not just for the Corps but for me personally.
In this Corps I found welcome, love and a spiritual home. Of course I also found politics, fallouts and the occasional argument...because unfortunately for the Church it's populated by us imperfect sometimes petty human beings, (and yes I am including myself at the forefront of that).
So what is a spiritual home?
A physical home should be a place of rest, a place where you feel comfortable where you can unwind from the pressures of the day. A spiritual home should have some of these qualities but it also needs to be a place of challenge and inspiration that will not always be comfortable but will bring you encouragement and fulfillment.
Coventry City Corps is where I find these things but let me be clear, we are a long way off a perfect community. We can fall out, annoy each other, dismiss each other but I'd like to think when things are rough we would be there for each other. We are a family....but a dysfunctional family sometimes.
My Church has, over the last few years, become home to a different group of people... We have joined a group of other churches in the city to host a winter night shelter. We have become a temporary home on one night a week providing warmth, comfort and food the very things a home should provide. On a personal note while I've been involved in the night shelter I have found time to sit in our main Worship hall devoid of light and people and I have found a real sense of peace and homeliness; reflecting on all the friendships and relationships that have been built in that room when it's full, relationships with God have been built and testified too, prayers have been said, commitments made (including my own wedding vows). It truly is the heart of our spiritual home, but I suppose when full this is hard to see.
Many people, perhaps someone reading this have, been hurt by the Church in some way or another. And I am truly sorry for that. But despite this I still feel that the Church is necessary, that belonging to a Church community is necessary, and not just because of the benefits we can receive, but also because of the journey we are on together; We can, even unknowingly support and encourage those around us in our faith communities just by being an example.
I know what a lot of people say "you don't need to go to Church to be a Christian..." And I understand this position and I can see the point, I would even agree, to a point. The old rebuttal to that position is of course "you don't need a parachute to jump out of a aeroplane...but it certainly helps." The point is, we need each other. We have to walk together to find encouragement and strength in each other, and we need to serve alongside each other... Think about a major incident like an earthquake or flood; yes, individuals can help and make a huge difference, but it takes an Army, committed, organised and mobilised to really turn the tide, with supply drops, airlifts etc, we can be that Army...but it means putting aside our squabbles and differences and work together.
So let's be a true family and community. But let's go into it with our eyes open; understanding that we will annoy each other, we will fall out and hurt each other but by the grace of God and mutual love and understanding we can get past all this and be a true family. Ultimately we are better and stronger together, even when we annoy each other and fallout over petty stuff.
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