In The Beginning…
“I hate going to church.” That is what I told myself for the majority of my life. I grew up on the south side of Chicago in an Italian/Irish neighborhood. Firemen, policeman, mechanics and all sorts of blue collar workers. I grew up in a traditional Catholic community and I went to Catholic grade school, Queen of the Universe. Before my parents got divorced I was set to go to Marist Catholic High School. I did the CCD classes, the first communion classes and went to church every Sunday. For the life of me, I can’t remember one thing I learned about Jesus during that time. The only thing I remember about those days is the kneeling. I didn’t like the kneeling. Now this isn’t a blog about how bad the Catholic Church is, this is just my recollections on my childhood and these memories are probably fuzzy.
When I got to college, I stopped going to church. I “didn’t have time” and I had “better things to do”. Also, I remembered how I didn’t like the kneeling. I stopped going to church from age 18 to age 40. Twenty two years of not having a relationship with Jesus. When I was going thru the darkest times in my life, I didn’t have Jesus. Let me correct that, looking back at that time Jesus was with me, I just ignored him.
Then Came The Invite…
Then one day, Jesus showed up in the form of an invite to The Village Christian Church. At first, I didn’t want to go (see above reasons/excuses) but my ex-wife insisted we try the church. She had already visited after an invite from a neighbor and she begged me to go with her. To say I was hesitant is an understatement. I agreed to go and she gave me a few “warnings”. She said it is loud like a rock concert and it is in a gym in a junior high school. None of these comments did anything to sell me on going.
But I went. And my life was changed. I walked into that school and was immediately greeted by numerous people. Everyone was welcoming. I was shocked because at my old church, everyone just walked in and out without really talking. I went into the gym and was immediately hit with worship music. For me, that was all I needed. I immediately connected. I remember looking around and seeing people in shorts, wearing baseball hats. Again, not something you see in my old church. I remember Nate’s message to this day. It was about Jesus knocking at your door and how he is trying to form a relationship with you. I felt like Nate, the Lead Pastor, was speaking to me directly. From that moment on I was hooked. I learned more about Jesus on that Sunday than my entire childhood.
The music, the message and the people. All of these things I never experienced before. I got baptized, joined lifegroups and volunteered as much as I could. I don’t know what my life would be like if I didn’t get that invite or if my wife didn’t get her invite. Today I say “I love going to church”. I look forward to going on Sunday. Playing in the worship band is life giving to me. I even organize vacations and social events around Sundays. I don’t want to miss a single Sunday. So, I urge each and every one of you, please go out and invite people. You may end up changing someone’s life.
You have choices when it comes to how to experience church – The Village LIVE, the Online Campus or in-person at the Minooka Campus or the Seneca Campus opening February 21, 2021.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. – Luke 15 3-7