I’d like to preface this post by saying I started going to the church I attended up until this Sunday in mid-2003. There’s no need to mention its name to the masses here on the Interweb because this isn’t meant to be a knock on them. That being said, some of you from Redemption Hill probably know where I’ve been attending. I’d like to share my church history with you all to help you understand what point I’m at in my life and walk with Christ. It’s a bit long, but I hope you’ll take the time to read it.
I’ve considered myself a Christian since I was old enough to understand what it meant, maybe a little older. But only recently have I understood what it means to be a follower of Christ. I’ve grown to understand that Christian and Christ follower are not synonymous, contrary to my thinking for years. Anyone can say they’re Christian, but there are a lot of people that fail to back up this statement with the way they live out their lives. Anyone can “talk the talk,” but a smaller number actually “walk the walk.”
I feel like I’ve been one of those people. Sure, I’ve always gone to church most every Sunday, I pray, and consider myself a pretty good person. But lately I’ve really taken the time to examine myself and my actions, and realized that those things, while good, aren’t nearly enough. Truth be told, I’ve never actually read the Bible in any depth before. That’s probably the biggest thing, and I guess that’s because I’ve never connected with a small group that’s motivated me to take my faith to the next level. Truth be told, it was always difficult to connect with anyone in the congregation at my former church, my age or otherwise. The people always seemed cold to a certain extent, even when I made a concious effort to connect with them. It was just the demeaner of the church, I suppose.
Throughout my half-decade at this particular church, I began to get heavily involved in several ministry teams. I started by running the on-screen lyrics and video in the back of the auditorium. I then transitioned to the multimedia team, where I helped edit videos that the church produced to coincide with the coming week’s Sunday morning message. I found this work very rewarding at first, mainly because I saw how people were touched, and even came to Christ, on various occasions after seeing the end result of our production efforts. But after a while, I started to get burnt out and realized I wasn’t volunteering for the right reasons anymore.
I was basically volunteering my time because I was pressured to do so by others and because I felt obligated. I therefore no longer received the joy that came from seeing how peoples’ lives were touched by our productions. I took some time off from my duties to take a step back and see if it was what the Lord was calling me to do or not. I didn’t get an answer right away, but that didn’t mean He wasn’t listening to my prayers. Everything is done in God’s time, not ours, which I think we all fail to remember from time to time.
To make an incredibly long story a bit shorter, it was when I returned to the ministry that I realized it was not where God wanted me to be. The Technology Director, whom I worked under, and I had major personality differences. He, as well with most leaders of this organization, are very rigid, structured people who focus on putting on a big, polished production every Sunday. I, on the other hand, am very laid back and not into the high-pressure environment that encompassed the church. I also felt that it got to the point where there was much more focus put on aesthetics and putting on a show than nurturing personal relationships with Christ. The church is run very much like a corporate office.
I do realize that the goal of this church is to reach people who have always been turned off to church, never liked it, or would otherwise never give it a chance. At the same time, though, I think too much attention was put on bringing new people in, and not enough was put on fostering growth of those already there. The “turnover rate” that I’ve seen clearly exhibits this.
I started feeling the same way. My soul hungered for more than the church was providing. I even attended a few small groups but didn’t seem to connect with the people or the curriculum. But I still talked with Kamen, who I met when we volunteered together at this church in the video production team, on a regular basis, and he told me about Redemption Hill. Before long I decided to give it a try.
I’ve visited Redemption Hill 3 times, and I just have to say I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. The first morning I walked into Linwood Holton Elementary, I didn’t know what to expect. My family is still attending the other church, so I came by myself, and sat in the back. Not even a minute or two later, three people my age had come by and said hello, and before I knew it there was a whole group surrounding me. These people took me in and treated me just as if we’d been friends for years. It may not be a big deal to people who are used to that simple gesture of kindness, but it meant the world to me. I almost couldn’t believe it, simply for the fact that it was so unlike anything that would ever happen at my former church. At that church, you could attend every week and remain completely anonymous if you so chose. At Redemption Hill, I found that’s not the case, and I really think that’s a great thing. I really want to thank you all for being so warm and inviting. It really gave me renewed hope in what a church could be. I also attended one of the small group meetings at the Goodletts’ home and connected with the group and the discussion immediately.
Over the past month or so since I first attended, I’ve been back to my old church a few times, partly because my family still attends there, and partly because I was still thinking and praying over where I was supposed to be. It meant a lot to me that you guys cared enough to call, text, and send me messages on Facebook asking where I was on those weeks.
I’m happy to say that after that month of deliberation, I’ve found a new church home at Redemption Hill. I’ll be attending every Sunday now. I’m looking foward to entering this new chapter in my life, and I know that God has led me here for a reason. I also look foward to growing in Christ along with each and every one of you. Thanks for showing me the love of Christ with your actions. I’m excited to have finally found a new church home.