Tonight at church, while some of the men were in the kitchen getting coffee and brownies a la mode for the women (and me), a guy who has only come twice asked the host for prayers for deliverance from an immoral physical relationship with the girl he is dating (and brought to church tonight, by the way). The relative newcomer petitioned the host to, after he and his love interest had left for the evening, pray with the rest of the community for their relationship to become pure.

So we did. When the couple left the host family’s apartment, we prayed for God to deliver them from the situation the guy, at least, knew was wrong.

I’m not sure why this whole turn of events surprised and impacted me so much. Well, yes I do. It’s because tonight’s events were how I have imagined “church” being all my life, but haven’t found anywhere until now. What I imagined was a place where everyone, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done, could come and unload their burdens at the feet of Christ and their community. I imagined a place where second-time visitors felt so at-home that they could start referring to the community as “our church” on their second visit and would be OK with subjecting private sin to corporate prayer. I imagined a group of believers that would spend time discussing accountability options for the struggling brother until well after “church” was supposed to have ended. Tonight was the first time I’d experience any of this inside a community of faith in my 22 short years.

As the host’s wife said so artfully tonight, it’s all about the people. She and her husband had left two churches — both with stellar worship, numerous and diverse ministries, and gobs of people — because they didn’t feel wanted. It was that simple. I never again want to be a part of a church that has the best singles ministry or preacher in town, but couldn’t drop everyone’s plans to pray for the secret sin of a brother and sister in need.


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