Yesterday, Heather and I did something we haven't done for a long time: we went to church like "normal" people.
Our service starts at 6, but we usually show up at 4 to set up everything since we don't have our own facility. But yesterday, we didn't get to church 'til 5:55. It felt a little weird, to be honest.
Walking towards the building, I decided I'd pretend that I was someone visiting for the first time--that I'd look at everything through a newcomer's eyes.
Afterwards, I told my family that if I were choosing a church for myself, I'd choose this one. Obviously, I'm biased, but I really mean it! ;-)
For one, I was struck by the friendly atmosphere. This was a church where one could find genuine friendship, authentic community.
Second, there was laughter before, during and after the service. These people didn't take themselves too seriously and that is a good thing.
Third, it was pretty informal, which made me feel comfortable, at ease. Karen gave the announcements last night and I liked how she invited people into the community with her natural charm and warmth.
The speaker was a young guy that wore a green t-shirt. Kelly spoke in a natural way, sharing his thoughts with humility while also clearly committed to the Bible. I appreciated how he explained things to those who didn't know the Bible very well but he also explored the Scripture deeply so a more "mature" believer could engage with it and, most importantly, apply it to one's life.
Fourth, the time of singing was joyful and uplifting. Whenever I looked at the young woman leading, I saw a smile that was real. (Thanks, Tep!) What's more, the band and singers seemed to be a team; they seemed to be "together", unified. The team-builder side of me likes that alot.
Fifth, there was prayer, real prayer. Time was taken to cluster together, hear one another's burdens and just simply pray for each other. I loved the simplicity of that.
What amazed me most, however, was the fact that I did not have to show up ahead of time like usual to get everything ready (nor were we the last to leave last night after tearing down). What a great bunch of people! Here they had voluntarily given up their Saturday afternoon (it was a beautiful day!) to set up, rehearse music and pray together before the service. When I walked in, it was amazing to feel the sense of peace that was there. It was clear that they had a good sense of teamwork in it and that everything went well without us. This did my heart good because it means that the church will do just fine after we move from Madrid. I thanked God for this, so when the chance came to say what we were thankful for in the service I said, "I'm grateful for provision, this church and slave labor."
To the many people who volunteered their time to make yesterday's service a truly worshipful experience: thank you, thank you, thank you. Your sacrifice did not go unnoticed. And God used you to touch many people's lives. I am so proud of you, so grateful that God gave us the chance to start a church like this. Thank you. We love you and we will miss Oasis.