It’s a word that has the power to evoke many different emotions.
Sadly, a lot of them are negative.
For many people, the church is a symbol of repression, discrimination, and boredom. I get it. There is a lot of bad history there and I’ve fallen asleep in church a bunch of times.
Despite the negativity, the history, and the bad stereotypes, I have a different story to tell.
A story of hope, a story of generosity, a story of love.
That is the church Jesus intended.
That is the church Jesus loved.
That is my church.
A family at our church has been going through some really tough times. The unwanted trifecta: medical issues, unemployment, and the loss of their home. They asked for prayer, so a lot of people prayed. However, I felt like we needed to do more. These folks have amazing spirits, are always willing to serve, and their church should be there to help in their time of greatest need.
In a way unlike anything I could have ever imagined.
Last fall, one of my good friends, Teddy, and I went out to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. We once lived in the same small town in Texas about 25 years ago and so we both have a passion for Mexican food. Work, technology, and to-do lists occupy so much of our time, so it was priceless to just sit down, eat tacos, and talk with a friend face-to-face.
We invited more guys from Capital City Church to join us for Mexican food the next month. We’ve gathered together every single month since last November. I started to call it “Dude Date.” About 25 of us hit up a local Mexican joint, bond over tacos, give out a coveted “Dude of the Month” award, and raise money for a different charity each month. We usually raise about $125. We also raise a lot of eyebrows when we roll into a local taco joint 25-deep on a Monday night.
These two separate stories converged last week. Instead of raising money for a charity, I decided to use this month’s Dude Date to raise money for the family at our church who needed some hope. I emailed the group of guys and asked for help. I thought we’d raise $300. I was really hoping for $500.
We raised $5,160.
(drops the mic)
(picks the mic back up because there is more to say)
I’ve never seen such unbridled generosity, enthusiasm, or love from a community. I was moved, I was shocked, I was honored to call these guys my friends and this church my home.
Most of these guys didn’t know the family we were helping. It didn’t matter. One guy said God was pounding on his heart when he heard there was a need. He gave $1,250. Someone mailed me an anonymous $800 money order. Another guy paid for everyone’s bill at last week’s Dude Date and encouraged the thirty other guys to donate to the family what they would have paid for their meal.
I gave all that money to the family today. It has felt like the week before Christmas since Monday. I was so excited for that moment. It was priceless. It was powerful. That money will be used to make sure this beloved family has a place to live.
That is the power of the church.
The church Jesus loved. The church I love.