December 17, 2017

What Makes The Church Beautiful?

Hey iMonks. I have a request from my brother-in-law. He is preaching on the “Beauty of the Church” the next couple of weeks and needs our help. Here is what he has asked of me:

I know you hear and see a lot of the worst of the church from your Internet Monk seat.  But without ignoring or denying any of that, are there some things you’ve read that cause your heart to be glad to be part of “her?”  That cause you to realize why Jesus loves “her” so much?  (Obviously one of my first statements will be that He loves us “just because we are, not because of what we do for him.”)  But are there things that make you go “the church really is beautiful?”

What say you? Can you offer some stories that show the church really is beautiful?

Comments

  1. Three things came to mind in ascending level of importance:

    1. Worshipping at an Anglican church I find the liturgy and the celebration of the eucharist has much aesthetic beauty.

    2. In contrast to what John MacArthur had to say about the situation in North Africa and his lack of compassion, I think one thing that makes the church beautiful is when Christians are obedient to the words of Paul and “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

    3. Jesus makes the church beautiful by His grace. “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b)

    • Christiane says:

      ‘his lack of compassion’ is a good description in this case, yes

    • I wanted to say thank you to all of you who contributed to Jeff’s question. I am the brother-in-law and a stranger to the “world o’ blog.” But I read every word you wrote and came to value the church even more because of your stories and comments. thanks

  2. Primarily the changed nature. The ability to weep with those who weep – this radical others-centerdness – is a result of God’s grace poured out on us. For every false church and false Christian, there is someone suffering for the sole purpose of healing and helping others. Kind of reminds me of Hovey’s book “to share in the body”.

  3. the gospel. i love the gospel message. the story of sinners ransomed from the fall. the story of the prodigal. the story of a God who loves us so much that he died for us in order to be with us. i love the radical indiscriminate enemy love that Jesus taught and lived. i love when i see a group of people really get this; i.e., when a group of chrsitians understand that our faith is really summed up like this: we are all just beggars telling other beggars where we found some bread, and then sharing that bread with them.

    • Our pastor’s wife was teaching one Sunday on prayer. She has suffered from migraines for years, and in the middle of her talk, she started getting one and couldn’t see. She was understandably getting upset, and many individuals in the congregation, myself included, were silently praying for her.

      And then a beautiful thing happened.

      Someone stood up and said that we needed to stop and pray. So forget the order of service, the plan for that Sunday, etc. People got up out of their seats, surrounded her, laid hands on her, and we prayed as a Body for her healing. It was a remarkable demonstration of prayer, better than any sermon anyone could have given.

      There are moments like that that truly show how beautiful the Church can be.

      • taking care of one another, truly. yup, that’s what it’s about. real, genuine, authentic and spontaneous acts of love, kindness, generosity, grace, forgiveness, compassion, gentleness, patience, mercy, acceptance, understanding and selflessness. moments that compel us to behave in these ways, when we decide and choose to be this way over another, these are moments when I believe God looks down and smiles upon his creation, for they are in those moments helping Him to establish His kingdom here on Earth.

  4. I feel “church” is what happens here at I.M. I suppose that is not the answer you are looking for, but I have been AWOL from the pews for several years. It is the stories here, the brokenness along with so much beauty & hope that you all bring to the table… Is that brown nosing? I hope not. Not my intention. I found this web site a few months before Michael passed… If I could find a place of worship where we were loved in our sinful, wounded, flawed humanity I would attend… For me “Church” is: God’s children bearing each others burdens, confessing our faults to one another… For the time being, I will lurk here, be fed here, until the Lord heals what the Pharisee’s of today laid on my weary heart, and perhaps then, I can re-join the body of Christ in the pews.

  5. Here’s a personal story….

    Years ago when I was younger my sister was diagnosed with a schizophrenia. Yet I didn’t know what schizophrenia was and couldn’t comprehend it. I thought it was like a cold, flue, etc.. something that clears up with time and goes away. God was I wrong….

    When I was in school my parents came out to visit me and they told me what the doctors were telling them, that my sister and family were going to have to deal with this long term. I was in shock, and heard this a second time and the reality started to sink in. When my family left I got so pissed at God…”Why would he do this?” , “What’s going to happen to my sister now…?” etc… and started to experience a lot of spiritual difficulties. I was filled up with so much anger that I took off time from work and got in the car and headed to St. Louis. I spent most of my time in a hotel just angry and trying to work through my thoughts, emotions, etc.. I couldn’t believe that the sister I grew up with was not going to be the sister I had going forward.

    So anyhow while in St. Louis I deceided to get out of my motel room and play tourist. I went to the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis in Webster Groves. Loved it!! I then proceed to grab lunch at a nearby McDonalds and off the cuff I decided to see if I could give church a try and asked if there was one nearby. The clerk at McDonalds told me about an Evangelical Free just up the road. When I went that evening to the young adult service (people in their 20’s as was I at that time….) I was overwhelmed by the talk that was given. It was about when things in life don’t make sense and used the example of a loved one being mentally ill. I lost it, Afterward I had all these poeple that came up to me and asked me “Hey did you move ot the area?” “What’s happening bro.?.” And I was just honest with them…that I was pissed with God, that the doctors are telling my family about my sister’s long term diagnosis, and how I can’t comprehend it…I had all these people that gathered around me and started to hug me and say how much they loved me. Word got to the pastor and he spoke with me and gave me a hug and I was overwhelmed. And for about 2 hours…I expereinced a sense of love and community that I had never expereinced before in the presence of total strangers. It was beautiful and amazing. In contrast to my later evangelical experiences it showed me how the church can be beautiful and shine when it gets it right, and how community plays a part.

    In 2009 when my faith collapsed I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this…and have even traveled back to St. Louis a couple of times hoping that I could have another expereince that could jump start it again like it did earlier in my life.

    • Hey Eagle……Thanks! For sharing! All that you share here! Truly!

      I’ve never had an experience like that, from people, for other believers, to draw on in times of a faith famine. Hang on to it!

      Thanks for being here! For being honest and transparent with all of your stuff!

      And may I ask……how is your family now?

      • My sister is recovering. My family has been dealing with this for 15 years now and it has been challenging. She’s had her ups and downs, and works with doctors and takes her medicine. I love her, and until the end I will be her biggest fan. Mental illness carries a lot of stigma, I have been involved in the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and have gone to family support groups etc,, to educate myself. But most people want to be ignorant. You mention schziophrenia and many people assume that a person is going to drown her own kids like Andrea Yates did. In truth about 95% of all people who are mentally ill are harmless.

        And I have also done advoacy for the mentally ill in the past (inspired by my sister…) About 10 years ago the town that I was living in was having a debate about building a mental health home for people who are mentally ill to live in. The people from the nearby neighborhood had the “Not in my backyard bulls—..” which they pushed at this city council meeting. People got up and would say things like, “Well I have kids and I don’t want my kids to be assualted…etc..” I sat there and steamed. When the floor was opened up I eventually went to the microphone and I roared. After some of the bs (especially someone being mentally ill being as much a threat as a pedophile?!?) I didn’t hold back. I raised my voice and I challenged those who were opposed to this project. I talked about my family’s experience my sister before and after her illness, and expressed how much I loved her. I also said that I couldn’t stand the comparissions people were drafting to a pedophile and that was so uncalled for, so out of place. I both shook and cried as I spoke…I was that pissed off.

        But the sad part is that the mentally ill are some of society’s most vulnerable. Many can’t defend, speak or help themself and as such they are the one’s society forgots. Senior citizens have lobbies, so do unborn babies…but that bi-polar homeless Vietnam veteran who lives under an underpass on the I-94 can’t defend himself and as such is easy to be picked on, and have their resources cut. It’s a disgrace and given the fact that we’ve been at war for 10 years now I’m willing to beat the next mental health wave is underway. So a system that is neglected and strained will be overloaded. It’s a disgrace…

        Today my sister is working at getting better. I send her texts, cards, talk with her regulalry, etc.. She has a long way to go, but she has gone a great distance. But I love her. One of the ironies Rebekah is that my sister lost a lot of her friends and contacts when she became mentally ill. Today one of the only people willing to be her friend and reach out to her is an old friend from high school who is gay that I’m sure many people have cut ties to. Isn’t life ironic…? I’ve encouraged her to continue to talk with her friend and grab coffee with her. I love my sister and I always will.

        • Thanks so much for this, Eagle. I too struggle with mental illness in the family, and your words are so encouraging. It is heartbreaking to help a beautiful young girl come to terms with all the diagnosis has taken from her.

        • And there you go again…..just dangling that heart on your sleeve! Thank you!

          My paternal grandmother was diagnosed manic-depressive in the 50’s or 60’s? Had electric shock treatments and the whole nine yards. The kind of thing that makes me think of One Flew Over The Cookoo’s Nest with Jack Nicholson. So little they knew back then! She died when I was 6, so I’ve only heard stories. Rarely good ones. However, this one always stands out……..before her illness set in, she was just a hoot to be around, very friendly, outgoing and loved teaching children. My dad’s side of the family has compared me to her many times, from our personalities to our faces. I’ve had my fair share of manic times in my life, so the comparison never sat well on my soul. The things she experienced before her diagnosis makes me realize why she became so sick. I hope to see her one day.

          Thanks again!

        • Eagle… That is a great story. I kind of know what you went/going through as my roomate is also a schizophrenic. He refuses to get any help because he believes everyone is against him, even those that are trying to help him. I was confused of why God has put him in my life and was annoyed at first. But it’s stretching me to understand His love more. May God bless you for your continuing to love your sister

          But to answer this post as others have, the beauty of the church is seen when the body of Christ actually acts like it and I’ve seen this with my roomate. Even if he doesn’t believe it, people in his church and others continually pray for him and are willing to listen and accept him even when he’s pushed them away many times. If it wasn’t for the church he would be like that homeless vet sitting on the streets with no advocate.

  6. A few weeks ago a couple in our community had twins. It was a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult delivery. The mother ended up with serious damage to her spinal cord which will likely require surgery to attempt to fix. The father had to quit working in order to help look after the babies.

    Athough they did not attend our church, they were known to several people in our church because the mother was a teacher at our local school. It has been beautiful to watch our church give money, food, time, and all kinds of other things to help this family. And they did it, not in hopes that they will decide to start coming to our church, but rather simply because the family is in need and we have the means to help meet that need. This family will continue to need our help for some months to come and I know our church will continue to step up and give generously.

  7. The Communion of Saints. I know I’m always banging on here about St. Thomas Aquinas and Dante, but I really do feel a sense of connection to them as fellow-Catholics and fellow-Christians. And our family would fall apart without St. Anthony of Padua, because we’re constantly invoking him to find things for us that we’ve lost (car keys, paperwork, glasses, you name it). How there’s a saint for everything, because nothing is too small or trivial or petty or ‘worldly’. How, even though they’re enjoying the Beatific Vision, we can still pester our big brothers and sisters to fix this for us (because Mom said you’re supposed to help me! And if you don’t, I’m going to tell Mom and she’ll do it for me!) 😉

    The liturgy, even in its post-Vatican II made as simple as possible, strip away all mystery, form. The structure and support of it.

    The Mass. The Sacrament of the Eucharist. The biggest thing. And the way that after God has come down on the altar, there’s still the kind of everyday, workman-like elements to the liturgy. Yes, I like watching the priest cleaning the vessels after everyone has received communion, in a way that’s like doing the washing-up after a family meal (although the Blessed Sacrament is more than just, while it includes the element of, a meal). The sacrifice of Calvary and the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

    The Pope (yes) and the Bishops (yeah, even the bad or poor or weak ones). My brothers and sisters (even the bad and poor and weak ones, particularly the ones that remind me that they are, by virtue of their baptism, my brothers and sisters even if I wish I could disavow them – and they probably would feel the same about me and my opinions) 😉

    All the craziness, because dear Lord, over two thousand years we’ve been all kinds of crazy.

    • Paul Davis says:

      +1

      But also the depth and historicity of the church universal (Even the protestant ones), when we truly stop arguing about who’s right about which theology and just reach out in love. There is nothing more powerful, or moving, we don’t have to agree. But if we can love each other, minister to each other, there is simply nothing more beautiful…

      -Paul-

    • I love the Communion of Saints, also. When I have brothers and sisters that stretch not only across the globe, but across time as well.

    • This warms my newly-Catholic heart very much. Beautiful.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      All the craziness, because dear Lord, over two thousand years we’ve been all kinds of crazy.

      AKA The Gospel According to Quiet Riot:
      “MA-MA-MA WE’RE ALL CRAZY NOW!”

  8. Church is beautiful because the gospel is freely proclaimed there, and the Sacraments are administered in accordance with that gospel.

    It is beautiful because it is a place of freedom where we can hear the truth about ourselves and have the freedom to not have to put on aires, or pretend to be something that we are not.

  9. I think that the community of believers is one thing that makes the Church beautiful, but I have to be true to myself also. I need physical beauty to help me worship. I need the old stained glass windows, the cathedrals that reach up to heaven, the simple wooden chapels, etc. One of the places that I remember worshiping well at was a simple wooden chapel, but behind the pulpit, there was a large glass window made from clear glass in the shape of a cross. When I was there, probably summer, you saw green trees trough the window.

    I need music, whether simple folk type songs, glorious hymns like Amazing Grace or classical worship music, like Mozart or Bruckner. One of my favorite chant CD’s is from a convent and one of the last solos is a very old nun with voice cracking with age.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “I need music, whether simple folk type songs, glorious hymns like Amazing Grace or classical worship music, like Mozart or Bruckner.”

      And what a contrast from some of the stuff that passes itself off today as worship music

  10. Christiane says:

    I love the sense of peacefulness during Mass

  11. Phil Roberts says:

    The church is beautiful because it is the body of Christ.

  12. For me, what makes the Church beautiful is summed up in Jesus’ prayer for us, His body, in John 17: 20-26:

    “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will[e] believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
    “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

  13. I have a friend named Irene. When she passed on, she was 80 years old. We had nothing in common when we met. She had an accent that suggested she immigrated from europe, a son, a grandchild, and a love of handicrafts. When we met, I was an irreverent 15 year old. She sat in the same spot in church every week, and over the years as I struggled through the transition to adulthood, sometimes I’d find myself back in church. She always pushed me to sit next to her, no matter how long I’d been gone. She kept me up to date on her family, told me about her life, and always listened to my troubles and diffiiculties. Whether I’d been gone a month or a year, Irene was faithful to make sure I was included in worship, showing me Jesus’ love just the same. She took me seriously, even when she got cancer and I got a neurological condition, but she didn’t assume my medical problems didn’t count just because I was young. When I became disabled, she inducted me into the senior’s circle because she knew us frail types need to keep each other going. She humored the doctor’s in their busybodiness when her tumor metastasize, but she wasn’t worried, she was an old lady and knew exactly where her path was going. She was dignified, faithful, enduring, and unembarassed of her imperfections, she knew they’d work out in the end.

    To me the church is a lot like Irene… beautiful.

  14. My answer is in the true narrative below:

    When a newspaper man, Dave Peterson, asked me how it was being a missionary in Egypt . . . and I responded, “It was hell,” he didn’t bat an eye, but smiled softly. Putting his hand on my back, like a semi-man hug, he added, “Hey, I want to hear all the details. Can I bring the pastor and we meet at Burger King this afternoon?”

    That afternoon, I sat with Dave and the pastor for three hours over a Whooper and fries as huge soft snowflakes tumbled out of the grey sky and onto windshields of the cars in the parking lot. Through the birch trees, which lined the highway, you could see the whitecaps of a tremulous Lake Superior, a few hundred yards away.

    I had been back in the states for six months and Dave was the first person to ask about our experience . . . I mean sincerely asked. I didn’t hesitate to begin telling our story. I thought the saga had been pushed down, inside a can, so long and so hard, that if I took the lid off, it may not come out very easily, as if it had solidified. But it did come out, slowly at first, but then it began to flow out like hot honey, then hot oil. Hot oil gave away to a bust of boiling water, like an Old Faithful eruption.

    Dave was a stocky man . . . about forty years old and the pastor, ironically also named David, was about twenty-eight, thin and five-foot seven at best. I will never forget stocky Dave’s face. He sat like a statue, in a good-listening way, with his chin set firmly on his two fists, resting on his elbows. After about forty-five minutes into the story, I saw the most amazing thing I had ever witnessed. It was like I just had ten years of therapy rolled into a nanosecond. What was it? It was simply a huge tear . . . a sincere tear . . . tumbling down Dave’s silent face and dripping off his cheek onto his fist.

    Until that point, I assumed that Dave, like everyone else, wasn’t even listening to me. I guessed he was daydreaming . . . off fishing somewhere out beyond the whitecaps. With the sight of the tear, I froze in confusion, followed by a strange kind of delight or at least a relief. I became so choked up that couldn’t speak anymore, but I could cry. The dams burst in my own eyes and for the first time I began to sob uncontrollably until my French fries became a blur and soggy. It may have been the first time I had cried in fifteen years. Real men, especially Christian men don’t cry. I hadn’t cried at my friend Daniel’s funeral and how could I? After all, even his parents were so godly that they didn’t cry.

    But that day, I finally had an ear and that’s all I had wanted. I didn’t want the “answer,” or a cliché or a Bible verse. I knew all the Bible verses. I didn’t want someone just listening to the first sentence out of my mouth then interrupting, trying to make meaning out it by connecting it to something in the unseen world . . . God teaching me a lesson, or being my fault because I had not been obedient. I didn’t want someone glancing at their watches within five seconds of the story.

    I honestly can’t remember what happened after Dave’s tear and the tears that followed. It really didn’t matter. I don’t know what he or David said that day and maybe they said nothing at all. But I do know that the moment prior to that dinner at Burger King on Skyline drive in Duluth, Minnesota I was hopeless, so hopeless that I was certain that I would commit suicide before a few more weeks would past. Afterwards, sitting in the fast-food parking lot under a windshield covered in new, soft, fluffy snow, I knew that some day I would find God again, and I would be well. On that day, I also found the real Church once more.

  15. As she ponders her own worth, He remains concealed
    As His image issues forth, Her beauty is revealed
    His and Hers in dance of light
    Joy of earth; heaven’s delight

    Our beauty is of course all about Him.

  16. I would say the church is beautiful to me because it is my family.

    We all know that family can be a mixed blessing in this present age. There is no one on earth I feel more intensely about—both positively and negatively. I feel the deepest feelings of love and belonging in my family; I also feel the most intense anger and disappointment. Can’t live without ’em, can’t always live with ’em. Nevertheless, it’s my family. I belong there. They are not necessarily the people I would naturally choose to share my life with if it were my choice, but it’s not my choice. I’m sure my family members feel the same about me. Bottom line however, we’re kin. Nothing can change that. We spend our whole lives trying to find “home” and then we find we’ve never really left, and it has never really left us.

    Whether it is our biological family or our Christian family, each of us is there by grace alone. We have no choice about being born or about the family into which we’re born. Like it or not, my identity is bound up with my parents, grandparents, and fellow family members. Like it or not, my identity is bound up with those who share in baptism into Christ. I can try and run from that all I want, but that’s who I am.

    Ken Medema’s song, “Shall We Learn to Be Friends,” expresses it well for me:

    You are my sister, even when I hardly know you;
    You are my brother, even when I do not show you.
    You’re in my family, in Christ you’re kin to me;
    Now you are one with me, shall we learn to be friends?

    You are my mother, when I fall and when I’m hurting;
    You are my father, please forgive me my deserting.
    You’re in my family, in Christ you’re kin to me;
    Now you are one with me, shall we learn to be friends?

    I need you near me when my hope is gone, when my hope is gone;
    Come lift me up and help me carry on; you’ve got to help me carry on.
    Then when you’re weak, you’ll find me by your side;
    I’ll be standing by your side to comfort you and see you through.

    You are my daughter, it matters not your race or nation;
    You are my son, my own; may we embrace in celebration.
    You’re in my family, in Christ you’re kin to me;
    Now you are one with me, shall we learn to be friends?

    • I especially understand, and love, the understanding of Church as family. Because it is true. There is a reason we are called “brothers and sisters in Christ” 😀

  17. I find it beautiful to be at Mass with the crying babies, mentally challenged folks, newly married happy couples, elderly walking-slow people, teens, everyone. This is life. This is the Church. This is God’s beloved.

    • Yes, I agree with all of the above. Giving and receiving, “lived out compassion”. Having people from my church and others come and sit with me when I lost my husband. Just being with me. Having Christian neighbors check on me every day for the first year after his death. Including me at their holiday tables like I was truly family. And on and on. But, having visited a liturgical church I was very, very touched as the acolytes, readers and pastor processed into the sanctuary. A young acolyte came in first carrying a cross. Across the aisle was an older gentleman and as the cross went by he bowed. It brought tears to my eyes. One other thing I would like to mention that I know is a sore subject in many churches today. But our music is uniquely beautiful. I personally love the classical Christian music and the hymns. Yesterday I was in our local Hobby Lobby and as I shopped they were playing Handel’s Messiah and the atmosphere for me became holy. RIght there amidst the artificial flowers!! We do have beautiful music. And I beleive that is a touch of heaven on earth.

  18. Church is being with a bunch of shabby people, knowing their stories and them knowing yours, and loving each other and caring for each other during life’s ups and downs, and sins and struggles and mess, because you all know you’re hanging on to Jesus Christ, and maybe just barely, because of his big arms.

    • It may seem odd to some, but I like being part of a church where we don’t know all the names of the people attending and we don’t know the ins and outs of their personal lives. When I am not able to attend Mass for a long time, no one knows that because there are two weekend Masses and the people would not know if I was attending the other Mass or not. I just like that we are all there together, reciting the Creed, praying the prayers, listening to the readings and the homily, receiving Communion. And then we leave to go about living our lives the best we can. If I do happen to see someone from the parish during the week, I smile and nod or say hello. The people that know the ins and outs of my life are my family and a few closest friends and that seems to be enough for me.

  19. My husband and I just moved to S. Korea to teach English and attended our first church service in korea. Most people were Korean, some were American, like us, and some from other countries. I was blessed and comforted by the unity of spirit that came through even though I couldn’t understand much of what was said. Thankfully the sermon was interpreted and the songs had words in English as well as Korean. But everything else was in korean. I particularly remember the prayer. I didn’t understand any of the words, but felt the spirit. And the “amens” voiced during the prayer were said from hearts in unity with God’s and with ours.

  20. The beauty of the church is evident when the people of the church demonstrate their capacity to love.

  21. To put it very simply: the sacrificial love and unfathomable peace of Jesus Christ displayed in incarnational ways.

    Examples:

    • The local believer who pleaded for leniency at the sentencing of the drunk driver who killed his wife.

    • The “auntie” who tended to me and contended in prayer for me when I almost died of a childhood illness, and who is now losing her memory and other faculties in a nursing home, which both challenges me and gives me the opportunity to do the same though I fear in a much smaller way.

    • The missionaries I grew up among who could have been wealthy and successful doctors and engineers in their home countries but gave that up to use their skills to bring the love of Jesus to Muslims in a land officially hostile to the gospel.

    • Every believer who compassionately listens and comes alongside those who are hurting or poor or outcast.

  22. Von Balthasar says somewhere that beauty makes demands, and suggests that this is a natural analogy to the attitude of faith, which is like an aesthetic response to the form of Christ.

    Beauty makes demands. If I hear the central movement of Beethoven’s Appassionata or any of a dozen other pieces of music, I can’t do anything else. I’ve got to listen. Try not breathing deeply when you catch a whiff of hyacinth. Try not looking at a beautiful landscape, a beautiful building, a beautiful woman. It’s possible not to look, but it takes an act of resistance, a rebellion.

  23. Even when I’m dead tired from exhausting work, I make myself go to corporate worship and I return home energized and encouraged. We spend as much or more time singing and praying as we do listening to probably the best prepared and presented sermons around – sermons with depth. The outreach of this church is awesome…to Jerusalem (our city), Judea (our region), Samaria (our region, but among immigrants) and the ends of the earth (foreign missions). Every member is considered a missionary and we are very outward focused, involved in every imaginable way. I love our small groups and classes where the rubber meets the road and every class ends with ‘how will you apply what your learned today.? What makes this church great? Fasting and prayer and listening to God for his direction and a vision only God can bring to fruition. This church deals with lots of problems, too, but there’s lots of grace and openness and transparency. There’s so much more to say, but I feel loved, cared for and challenged to live out the gospel in my neighborhood – to be salt and light at my work. Not a perfect place – I’m part of this body – but a great body of Christ, who understands they have been bought with blood..