i grew up in a church. every sunday was spent in sunday school and then listening to the sermon. the older i got, the more questions i had about God, who He was, what He was, and why things happen the way they do.
the church i grew up in wasn’t conducive to asking questions. blind faith was on the docket. asking questions was not. sermons were filled with the preacher both yelling and crying weekly. no matter what the original topic was, it usually came down to the evils of homosexuality or how 10% is just the beginning amount you should tithe.
so weekly i’d take an offering envelope and cover it with verses about love.
i was either a senior in high school or recently graduated when one of the girls a little older than me became pregnant. in such a scary but beautiful time, we were told that we could not hold a baby shower for her on church property. because she wasn’t married. and so we had it at the youth minister’s house.
if this was how church was, how God was, then i wanted nothing to do with it. because i couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that God would want us to essentially shun someone because they were carrying a baby…one of God’s most perfect creations.
a year or so after graduating high school, i started to withdraw from church. it wasn’t a welcoming place.
after john and i started dating, we began to search for a church. somewhere honest. somewhere welcoming. somewhere where the message was based on God, the Bible, and truth. we tried different denominations, churches with different age ranges, and in various cities.
and then we found vintage. there were people who fell all across the spectrum financially, politically, and age-wise. we gathered in the music hall, drank coffee, and worshipped God. we learned that it was okay to have questions, to have doubts, about God. that it wasn’t only okay, but it was normal and healthy to entertain discussions on topics that seemed so taboo in other churches. that yes, our God is a God of wrath, but also of love. that grace is such a precious and beautiful gift that we don’t deserve but yet is given to us to freely. and that grace, well, it can change the world.
i look at the others who surround me at vintage, and i think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been broken by other churches. shunned for this reason or that. turned off by “religion”. disappointed by the hypocrisy of our religious leaders. we’re sort of like the island of misfit toys.
but we’ve found our place. and it feels like home.