From my earliest days, I was in church. Not only am I a PK (preacher’s kid), I’m a CK (church kid). For me, that means church has always been a part of my life. So, I guess it’s fitting that I drive a Buick, for I am a Brought up in church kid.
I had lunch this week with Ben, who preaches at the Shively church here in Louisville. And as I was talking to him, it occurred to me that the church where Ben serves would have been my first church. When I was a baby, my family lived in Shively, and would have gone to that church. It was in that nursery where, no doubt, I first spit up on church carpet; it was probably there that I first tested the patience of kind old ladies (though, no doubt, I have tested their patience ever since). While living in Shively, my dad was also involved in an African-American church, Prentice Street Christian. Even so, I was too young to remember any of that.
My first memory of church, however, takes me to East Orange, New Jersey, where we moved after my family left Louisville. My dad was preaching at 2 churches then — in East Orange, and in nearby Newark. And it’s at Newark that my synapses bring to mind my first real personal memory of church.
I wish I could say it was something deeply spiritual — like a sermon by my father, or a first-grade lesson where the light bulb went off above my head. Instead, my first memory of church is … playing ping pong in the basement at Newark.
Funny thing, though: ever since, I have loved ping pong — and the Church. In a day when it is fashionable to point out the Church’s flaws, or say that It’s day is past, I feel extremely grateful to be a part of God’s Great Family. In the Church, I have learned about life, and love, and family, and grace, and Jesus. In the Church I have learned that people are difficult — but Jesus loves them, and so should I. For Church is where I learn that I am difficult — and Jesus, and His people, love me anyway.
The Church has taught me how much we need each other. With all our flaws, and failures, and foibles — it’s easy to make fun of the Church. And sometimes, if we’re honest, we do some pretty goofy stuff that makes the world just roll their eyes.
But that’s exactly why we need each other. Because we are messy, and bumbling, and we don’t have all our Stuff together. The reason the Church is belittled is exactly the reason we need each other — because we are so messy. And so, we need a place to bring our mess. And find hope. And family. And grace. And Jesus.
I know that there are many PKs and BUICKs who run from Church when they turn 18; I was never one of them. In fact, I feel incredibly blessed to have grown up in church; to have watched my dad serve the church; and to have learned from him and my mom and so many others how important the church is, despite our many weaknesses.
I love the Church! And I want everyone who doesn’t know what Church can be, should be, must be — I want them to experience the grace that overflows among a bunch of simple, sinful, struggling people. For that’s who we are; and that’s why we come. And together, we find the grace of God that is big enough for all of us — and all of us together.
Thank God for the Church! May we become all that God calls us to be, as we experience, and share with each other, His Grace.