When I returned to New Life Community Church in Chicago after spring break in March, my friend gave me a hug and said, “Welcome home!”
When I returned to Chapel Pointe (CP) in Michigan after finals week in May, many people gave me hugs and said, “Welcome home!”
Now I was confused. How could I feel at home in two places? How could people in two different states think I belonged with them and was part of their community?
Ever since I was 17 months old, my family and I have attended the same church in West Michigan. Most of my good friends went to my church and youth group. Yes, I had friends and family who lived in different states and countries, but this was where I spent the majority of my time and built the deepest of my relationships.
Then my first year of college happened. On January 12, 2018, I received an acceptance email that set the course for my next four years of life. On August 15, 2018, my family drove me to downtown Chicago and left me there. I spent eight months living in the city, exploring new places, attending classes, doing homework, and making new friends. After visiting several churches in Chicago, I decided to become part of the New Life family.
Somehow, I have come to feel mostly at home in both places. However, in both, I feel slightly out of place. At New Life, I am from out of town and don’t quite understand the Chicago culture most of the congregation is immersed in. At CP, I am unfamiliar with the new building expansion and the many people who have become involved in the ministry since I left. (Plus, all the kids I used to watch have grown like weeds!)
My church in Michigan has roughly 1,500 attenders. My church in Chicago has around 60 to 75. My church in Michigan worships in a brand-new auditorium that is part of a recent addition to the building. My church in Chicago worships in the sanctuary of a nearly 100-year-old building with stained-glass windows.
My church in Michigan is composed mostly of middle-class white people, many of whom have attended churches their entire lives. My church in Chicago includes whites, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Asians of varying socioeconomic statuses, many of whom come from unbelieving families and have been discipled by people in the congregation.
Both churches are full of passionate worshipers of God who welcome new visitors with open arms. Both have strong communities in place through small groups and volunteer teams. I have dear friends in both congregations who have hearts of gold. And both churches have been abundantly blessed by God to minister to His people and those in the surrounding communities who need to experience His love.
At each of my home churches, I know that I am worshipping God with His people and that I am loved and wanted by them. I feel supported and encouraged any time I go to a service at one of them. So, I will enjoy the time I get to spend at Chapel Pointe with my family and longtime friends, and I will enjoy the months I spend in Chicago with my brothers and sisters at New Life.
If I wasn’t part of CP, I wouldn’t be able to see what a huge group of Christ followers could do when they are moved by the Holy Spirit to take their faith seriously. If I wasn’t part of New Life, I wouldn’t see how quickly a church can multiply when its members reach out into their community and make disciples.
I am so thankful for the blessing of being part of two vastly different congregations that teach me about the creativity of God and the diversity of His people. I relish the opportunity to dive into each community and pursue unity and Christlikeness. What a privilege to have so many friends in the Body of Christ!
How long have you attended your church? What do you love about it?
Have you ever felt torn between two “homes,” wondering where you belonged? How did God grow you through that experience?
Why do you think God puts us in one place for a while and then moves us to another? Could there be some benefit to not having a permanent home?