From the time I was just days old, my family has been very involved with the church. I can probably count the Sunday church services I have ever missed on my fingers. My dad has been the pastor of our church for the majority of my life. I love my church and my youth group! I have been blessed with a supporting church family who accepts me and loves me for who I am. However, I can’t escape the reality of the ever-increasing number of “church kids” worldwide growing up and leaving the church. Our culture has a view of rebellious preacher’s kids, and it hurts as I see it proven true time and time again. This is something that I and my generation of the church cannot continue to ignore. I don’t want to be just another statistic. I don’t want to come into church under a mask every Sunday. And I’m thankful for a church where I don’t have to do that. I can’t pretend like I’m perfect because I’m not. I fail time and time again. But each time God’s grace is there to catch me. As I have grown up, I have seen the “behind the scenes” of church. I have seen the brokenness of the church. I have seen the failure, the drama, the broken relationships, the hard work, and the stress inside the church. But I have learned that we live in a fallen world as fallen people, and there will be brokenness. We can’t be perfect, and neither can the church. But God’s grace, His undeserved mercy and forgiveness, will always be there. Despite the brokenness, I have also seen firsthand God’s power, His healing, His grace, His love, His restoration, and His joy. It’s those moments when I see glimpses of God’s perfection in our broken imperfection that encourage me. I see what God has called the church to be. It’s exhausting to try to pretend to be perfect, to not make mistakes, to wear our Jesus t-shirts and smile all the time. And that’s where I see teens inside the church become burnt out and turn their backs on the church. When we keep our brokenness bottled up inside under the mask of a perfect life, our brokenness and emotions will eventually explode. When we try to be good, and perfect, and happy all the time, we’re trying to do the impossible, we will inevitably fail without God. We’re human, we’re sinful, we need God. I think our generation longs for authenticity. We want real, the good and the bad, because that’s life. We want the mountains and the valleys. We’re tired of fake, we want relatable. We want honesty and transparency. There’s freedom when we can come into fellowship with other believers and say -you’re a mess, I’m a mess, we’re all a mess. But God, in his great grace, embraces us with His arms of mercy and takes our tears, our hurt, our anger, our brokenness, and He nails it to the cross and He loves us with a love deeper than we could ever understand. That’s what church is. It’s not just a building, it’s not just on Sundays. It’s a part of our life. It’s where we experience God and then leave encouraged to share the gift of grace we have been given. It’s where we experience honest relationships and run towards God together. The church of tomorrow starts with us, right now. We can’t ignore it. It’s our job to preserve the sacred bride of Christ and what an important, but exciting, task! It starts with us accepting and living each day in God’s grace, and extending His grace to others. It starts with us being open and transparent about our own struggles and God’s redemption story in our own lives. It starts when we build solid relationships with other believers, relationships where we can share biblical truth and encouragement with one another. It starts when we stop blaming the church, and we do something about it. It starts when we show forgiveness. It starts when we genuinely love deeply and begin treat everyone as God’s masterpiece. It starts with us.
4 thoughts on “It Starts With Us”
Emma, you are wise beyond your years. This brought tears to my eyes. God bless you.
Great job Emma Beth, so proud of you !
I had to stop and remember just how old you were! Wow, what wonderful advise coming from someone so young. All generations need to hear your wise words. May God bless your life as you continue to be a blessing to others.
How refreshing and how encouraging. I work as a school counselor here at our school in Montana. I am also very close with the students in our youth group at our church. What you have just said is so true and so inspiring. I am going to be sharing your site with our youth group as I think it challenges teens to truly take a look at who they are in Christ….. (am me/us as adults) and who they can become in Christ.
Thank you for your courage and desire to share your heart and what God has placed there. I grew up with your mom and dad (if you don’t remember me). 🙂