Yesterday in Tuscaloosa I visited a new church. On football weekends I often go to church up there before heading home. I enjoy Calvary Baptist which is about a block from my place. But I had heard good things about Vineyard Community Church, so I decided to go there.
Great atmosphere, welcoming community, enthusiastic worship and a very thought-provoking, Biblical message. I enjoyed everything about it. But one quick conversation grabbed me, and I don't even know whether the young lady meant to say what I got out of it.
Basically, they handed me a bag of goodies to welcome me as a first-timne visitor. The usual stuff - brochures, statement of faith, schedule of activities. But also a name tag. Well, I peeled the back of the name tag, stuck it to my shirt, and proceeded to wad up the back and put it in the bag.
That's when the young lady spoke up. She held out her hand, beckoned me to hand her the wadded up piece of paper, and threw it in the trash can behind the counter. And she said....(wait for it)...."We don't want you carrying your garbage around with you."
What an awesome statement of the church's mission! We all have garbage in our lives. Use whatever word you want for it - baggage, sin, addictions, idols - things that clutter up our lives and keep us from being everything we were created to be. Jesus came, launched the kingdom of God, died, and rose again so that we would not have to carry our garbage around with us anymore. And the church is here to help us realize that potential.
I don't know whether this mini-sermon was intentional. But it doesn't matter, because I think it was a byproduct of a church with the right attitude. They are there to help love people and help them shake off their garbage. I entered Vineyard feeling like they get it. Before I heard a note of music or a word of a sermon.
So wonderful to be among a community of people who know what it means to live out God's purpose. A great Sunday morning. Thanks, VCC.