church: an imperfect world-wide community of faith, love and belonging

Many of us fail to experience true heart connection with a church community. Those with chronic illness can struggle to get to services or stay in touch with friends. Even regular attendees can experience a sense of dislocation and isolation. But there’s a place there for us all. You belong.

Two years ago, my husband and I finally made it out to a service at our church. Our attendance has been erratic for years due to chronic health problems, so the Pastor took advantage of our unexpected presence to suggest we participate in the sermon Illustration he was giving.

We didn’t even need to leave our seats because he brought the microphone over to us. It so happens (in God’s perfect timing) that the sermon was on aspects of marriage and faithfulness. He felt we were suitably qualified to offer an opinion, especially as it was our 40th wedding anniversary that day.

My husband demurred, preferring me to answer instead. I prayed, took a deep breath and spoke from the heart, praising God and expressing deep gratitude for the man He had chosen to place by my side throughout life.

It was lovely to reconnect with friends and be of use again. But the service and fellowship we experienced that day gave me a pang of regret that church—as defined by being in a building on a specific day and time—was largely lost to me because of having chronic illness.

Thankfully, “church” means more than a gathering of people being taught, singing hymns, saying prayers, sharing communion and praising God together. The Bible defines church as the Body of Christ world-wide.

It is unrestricted by difference over theology and practice and unfettered by physical proximity or ease of access. I believe that church is a hospital for the hurting. A home for lost souls. A welcoming committee for the isolated and lonely.

It’s composed of Christ followers, His Body, through whom God carries out His Kingdom work, despite the seeming drawback of the disparate physical churches that exist and their differing doctrinal emphasis.

“Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body.”

1 Corinthians 12:27

Although church itself doesn’t always console us, in the silence and stillness of our hearts we are still able to meet powerfully with God.

As an institution, the official Church has caused much unintentional harm and offense over the years to its reputation and members, often driving away potential seekers after Jesus.

We can forget church is full of imperfect, broken and wounded people, just like you and me. We should bear these things in mind, while not being quick to judge or harbour resentment and unforgiveness.

“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” – Romans 12: 5 (NIV)

Church should look less like a cliquey, elite social club and more like a unique hub of trust, friendship and love. Because we are Christ’s ambassadors on earth, the world-wide family of God, His loving welcoming committee to those in need.

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20 (Amplified)

Maybe church is a place where you no longer feel safe or want to belong? I’d like to reassure you that you are not, and never will be, invisible to God. Whether you’re a keen churchgoer, a wanderer, a jaundiced believer, a lost soul, or an earnest spiritual seeker who hasn’t quite found their spiritual home yet, God’s arms stand ready to welcome you to Himself.

You don’t have to be in a specific building, dress a certain way, sign up to anything or speak Christianese. Only to be searching. Only to be aware you have needs which nothing else can satiate, and a longing to find your heart’s true Home and safe place.

Church as a community may have failed you in some way but God never will. Doctrinal disputes might have tripped you up in the past but God invites you now to lay those things aside and simply come.

God is interested in you first and foremost. He wants to shower you with His unconditional love. You can return to God whenever you want to. You belong. He sees you, my friend.

**Linking here with #glimpsesofhisbeauty and #graceandtruth

10 thoughts on “church: an imperfect world-wide community of faith, love and belonging

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  1. Dear Joy,
    What a precious encouragement from the Lord, to be reminded that the Body of Christ is more than a church building, or a service, or a program! Oh, Lord forgive us for making church into something You never meant it to be! We truly are connected through HIM, and He holds us together as He sees each one of us hurting and wounded souls. May we join Him as He calls more of His lost and aching hearts back to Himself. And may we see each other through His eyes of mercy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Bettie, my heart echoes your prayer. We can get so caught up with the format of our services and our ideas for growth that we forget it is Christ we are supposed to be serving, not our own needs. Yet as you so rightly say, our connection is established in and through HIM and “He holds us together” in love. I love the heartfelt blessing you close with and say amen to that too. It’s vital to see one another “through His eyes of mercy” and grace. Thank you for sharing your insightful words! 😊💜


    1. Amen, Lisa! It’s important to remember that truth as we live out our faith journey. It’s an encouragement to know we’re never alone as we battle with life’s challenges. Bless you, my friend. ❤


  2. I love the “You belong” and that is a school motto at a school where I sub. I love walking in there and seeing that banner.

    Love your post and it’s a reminder to us all to be reminded of the blessing to be able to go to church.

    Love this “Church should look less like a cliquey, elite social club and more like a unique hub of trust, friendship and love.”


    1. Hi Debbie, thank you so much for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment. I don’t think we ever tire of hearing we belong, do we? I still feel the ache and sad sting inside I had as a girl when I was treated cruelly by others, didn’t measure up or get invited to join their group or club. Such things can fester in an already insecure soul. But thanks be to God, you and I can rest in the all inclusiveness of His love and grace! Bless you, friend. Do stop by again. 🙂


    1. Dear June, I’m so glad you were encouraged here, my friend! It’s a hope and goal I have with all I share. Thanks for encouraging me with your sweet comment! Blessings on the rest of your week. xo 💜


  3. Dear Joy, Thank you so much for this encouragement! We have had many “churches” fail us, but God never will. Many of us can’t always get to the church gathering, but we are all part of the true church, the bride of Christ. He sees us and knows our hearts whether or not others understand. Blessings to you, dear Joy. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gayl, what a joy to see you here, my friend! It’s good to know you’ve been encouraged by these words. Yes, we will always remain “part of the true church, the bride of Christ”, whether we can get to services or not. And His love and compassion for us remain undimmed, for we belong to Him! Praise God for that reassuring thought and His complete understanding of who we are and how we are situated. Blessings and love to you! xoxo 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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