Have you ever used this hashtag?

I usually see it most on Sundays, when people are tweeting all kinds of brilliant things their pastor said or enjoying the free coffee/doughnuts/soda their chosen Sunday morning spot provides. I’m even guilty of using it a time or two myself.

Because the thing is, I do LOVE my church.

It hasn’t always been that way. There were a lot of dark days of unrest in my heart and vision for things I wasn’t seeing in my city that made me ache for the church. Maybe in the end that did come from a place of love after all, because I don’t think anyone would lie awake at night weeping for something they didn’t care about.

But things are different now. I love the people that God is gathering around us as we strive to influence the city of Ozark for Jesus. I love the music we play on Sundays. I love the smart, funny, handsome pastor who teaches God’s Word to us each week.

We had a Memorial Day picnic last Sunday and it was awesome. The kids played on the playground until they were filthy and exhausted, and then they played some more. The adults lingered in the shade, talking and enjoying each other’s company. I heard all about how people are building relationships with their friends who don’t know Jesus and how my husband’s message that morning encouraged them. We baptized two people in the river. And I got to hold a sweet 9-days-old baby.

And after I got home and tucked my freshly-laundered children into their beds, my heart sighed long and hard and happy.

Is it finally happening? I wondered. Are we finally seeing a little fruit of the hard labor God has called us to?

As it turns out, planting a church is a lot harder than planting blueberries. Even now, though we’re past the point of wrestling with God in the darkness, wondering what comes next for us, there are still a lot of sleepless nights wondering if we’re still on the right path. There’s angst over our successes or lack thereof, and confusion on how to even define that word in the church-planting context.

So to see, even for a moment, for one brief afternoon, a glimpse of the vision God began placing in my heart and Jason’s heart a few years ago, was medicine to my soul in a way I can’t even describe.

People are loving each other.

People’s lives are being changed.

People are reaching their neighbors.

These small, but measurable steps in the right direction mean everything to me. Not because it’s building my church, but because it’s building His church, which is what I love most of all.

“My prayer is not for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father….” John 17:20-21


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